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If you found any article, book, website, or other source useful while writing your paper, and especially if you used it in your paper, you must provide a proper citation.

Properly citing sources helps to preserve intellectual honesty, academic integrity, and good research:

  • It is required in your courses and in academia
  • It connects your work to previous research
  • It adds to our collective knowledge
  • It assists future researchers
  • It credits others for their ideas
  • It defines unique ideas
  • It gives your ideas authority

Plagiarism: The appropriation of another person's ideas, words, processes, results, or images without giving appropriate credit.

MSU Student Honor Code

Examples of plagiarism include:

  • Presenting someone else's work as your own, whether intentionally or not
  • Using someone else's exact words without using quotation marks or blockquote styling, or citing the source
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing a passage without citing the source
  • Not citing sources correctly

Plagiarism often occurs accidentally, when a student fails to cite a source or fails to cite it correctly.

To be safe, you should always cite the following:

Direct Quotes

Original Source:

Through the years, differences as to the proper definitions of terms within their discipline, as well as to the purposes of anthropology itself, have been the subject of endless debate among anthropologists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Your Use

"Through the years, differences as to the proper definitions of terms within their discipline, as well as to the purposes of anthropology itself, have been the subject of endless debate among anthropologists on both sides of the Atlantic" (Wolcott 2008).

From Wolcott, H. (2008). Ethnography: A way of seeing. Plymouth, UK, Altamira Press.

Paraphrased Passages

Original Source:

Through the years, differences as to the proper definitions of terms within their discipline, as well as to the purposes of anthropology itself, have been the subject of endless debate among anthropologists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Your Use

Anthropologists continue to debate the definitions of terms in their field and the purpose of anthropology (Wolcott 2008).

From Wolcott, H. (2008). Ethnography: A way of seeing. Plymouth, UK, Altamira Press.

Anything not considered common knowledge (including "borrowed facts")

Common knowledge:

The sky is blue.

"Borrowed fact"

"A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight" (Gibbs 1997).

From Gibbs, Phillip. (1997). The original Usenet physics FAQ. Retrieved from http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/BlueSky/blue_sky.html

There are several ways to create a correct citation. Before beginning, you will need to find out which citation style your professor or academic discipline prefers. See our Citation Guides for a quick overview of major citation styles.

Build It Yourself

Hand-constructing your citations, while time-consuming, is the best way to ensure that you're providing the most correct citations possible.

Consult print and online style guides (found in our Reference Collection) to familiarize yourself with the citation style you'll need to use. Our Citation Guides provide a quick overview and example citations for APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and other styles.

Citation Builders

Many of the online resources we provide can generate citations in different styles for you to use in a Works Cited page or bibliography.
 Warning: Be sure to double-check these citations for errors and correct as needed before turning your paper in! 

  • In the Online Catalog: Look for the "Cite This" button to the right of any catalog record; a separate window will open.
  • In EBSCOhost Databases and Discovery: Look for the gold paper icon on the right of the article record (it says "Cite" when you mouse over it).

Citation Management Programs

Citation management programs can help you store and organize information about your sources, generate bibliographies, and insert citations and notes into your paper. Popular programs include EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley, RefWorks, and EasyBib.
 Warning: Be sure to double-check these citations for errors and correct as needed before turning your paper in! 

Learn more about citation management:


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