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Citation Guide

Discover and explore the basics of why and how to cite.

What is Plagiarism?

Photo of key reading "Do Not Duplicate"

All students should strive to be careful scholars. An important goal of the careful scholar is to always give credit where it is due. It is the student's responsibility to keep track of all sources used in the production of a paper or other assignment, and to properly give credit to these sources through proper citation, utilizing both in-text citation and a bibliography. 

Plagiarism is often an intentional act of theft but might also occur by accident. This guide contains information for best practices in writing student papers and tips to avoid unintentional plagiarism. 

Scope of Plagiarism

  • To steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one's own

  • To use another's ideas or words without crediting the source, whether on purpose or by accident

  • To commit literary theft -- Signing your name to the work of another person

  • To present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source (without acknowledging that existing source)

  • Plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward. 

  • Plagiarism might also be an act of neglect or carelessness. Forgetting to cite a source is plagiarism all the same!

But can words and ideas really be stolen?

According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way, such as in a book or a computer file.

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • Turning in someone else's work as your own
  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • Failing to put a direct quotation in quotation marks
  • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Keep track of your sources throughout the entire duration of the project. You do not want to scramble for this information at the very end.
  • Use and familiarize yourself with the citation style you are using.
    • Use in-text citations for referencing external sources and ideas. In-text citations usually involve referencing the name of the author (or title, when there is no author) or a work or idea.
    • Include a bibliography when you use external sources. A bibliography should contain the citation to any works you reference in a paper and possibly any other important works and ideas you referenced while working on your project.
  • Take good notes on your sources, and clearly indicate direct quotations with "quotation marks." Good notes will pay dividends when it comes to actually writing your paper and will help you not accidentally plagiarize a source. 
  • Avoid copying-and-pasting! This practice encourages bad paraphrasing technique and very easily leads to plagiarism. If you do cut-and-paste, do not forget quotation marks.
  • Review the rules and best practices for properly paraphrasing and summarizing sources. See the "Paraphrasing and Quoting" and "Examples of Plagiarism" tabs on the left menu.
    • Improperly paraphrasing or summarizing is no excuse for plagiarism.
    • Proper paraphrasing requires that you do not use the author's original words or sentence structure. A paraphrased passage must be completely in your own words!

Limestone University Honor Pledge

“Honesty in personal and academic matters is a cornerstone of life at Limestone University. Students are expected to achieve on their own merits and abilities, to exercise integrity in all their affairs, and to refrain absolutely from lying, cheating, and stealing.”

I agree to refrain from academic misconduct. I further understand that there are serious consequences for academic misconduct, outlined in Academic Procedures of the Limestone University’s Academic Catalog.

Limestone University Student Handbook 

August 2021 Version


Refer to the academic misconduct link above for a copy of Limestone University's policy on Academic Conduct.

If you are experiencing problems with our guides, please contact Janet S. Ward, jward@limestone.edu, Associate Professor and Web Services Librarian.