Cite Your Sources

To avoid plagiarism, always inform your audience of any ideas or words that are not your own. Seems simple, right? But there are discipline-specific systems in place that provide "rules of the road" for citing your sources. Different style guides (MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, etc.) explain how to cite your sources in that particular system. MLA style is usually used for English and literature, APA for the social sciences, and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) for historical research. (Turabian is a modification of CMS aimed at college students.) There are many more styles out there, such as CSE (Council of Science Editors) for the sciences, ASA (American Sociological Association) used by sociologists and other affiliated disciplines and many more. If you are not sure which style to use, ask your professor.

Internal Citations

An internal, in-text, or parenthetical citation refers to the practice of giving credit to an author, singer, or speaker by citing their words/ideas within the text of your paper. This internal citation is then referenced in a list similar to a bibliography, but called something else. For example, MLA style calls this list a Works Cited page and APA calls it References.

Internal citations are sometimes referred to as parenthetical citations because they’re enclosed by parentheses. For example, you may read an article where every other sentence seems to have something like (Armstrong 11) at the end.  The writer of the article is telling you, the reader, the name of the person responsible for the information in the preceding sentence and on what page of the author's work this information is located. In this example of MLA style, the author is Armstrong and the page number is eleven. The reader will find the full title of the work on the Works Cited page if he or she wants to track down the original article, book, interview, song, etc. by Armstrong.

Another way to formulate an internal citation is to mention the name of the author in the sentence itself. In MLA style, the page number would be in the parenthesis at the end of the sentence without the name. So you might write a sentence like, As Armstrong explains in his chapter on bullying, some school programs work better than others (11).

Borrowing a work's structure, format or style, or unique phrasing without giving credit is also considered plagiarism. It is important to remember that merely changing the wording is not enough. The "summarizing and paraphrasing" section of this tutorial will elaborate on how to avoid plagiarism when not using direct quotes.

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