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Plagiarism: What it is and how to avoid it

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Why citing is important

It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons.

  • To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
  • To be a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
  • To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
  • To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by way of footnotes, a bibliography or reference list

Citing a source means that you show, within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from another place.

Citations are a short way to uniquely identify a published work (e.g. book, article, chapter, web site).  They are found in bibliographies and reference lists and are also collected in article and book databases. 

Citations consist of standard elements, and contain all the information necessary to identify and track down publications, including:

  • author name(s)
  • titles of books, articles, and journals
  • date of publication
  • page numbers
  • volume and issue numbers (for articles)

TRU Library Citation Style Guides

Academic organizations and some disciplines outline their own styles of how to cite sources and format research papers.  You may have heard of or used some of the styles when writing your paper.   

  • ACS Citation Style (American Chemical Society)

    Developed by the American Chemical Society, this style may be used for research papers in the field of chemistry.

  • APA Citation Style (American Psychological Association)
    American Psychological Association (APA) style is a widely accepted style of documentation, particularly in the social sciences. Social sciences such as Psychology, Linguistics, Sociology, Economics, and Criminology use this style.  Nursing and Business may use this citation style, but be sure to ask your instructor.
  • ASA Style Guide (American Sociological Association)
    ASA style is a widely accepted format for writing university research papers that specifies such the arrangement and punctuation of footnotes and bibliographies. Standards for ASA style are specified in the ASA style guide, which is published by the American Sociological Association, the main scholarly organization for academic sociologists.
  • Chicago Manual of Style
  • CSE Citation Style (Council of Science Editors)
    CSE is the format preferred by writers in many disciplines in the natural sciences, including biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. 
  • MLA Citation Style (Modern Language Association)
    MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities.