Acknowledging Sources

University of Texas at Arlington Libraries Tutorial

This tutorial will help you learn how to acknowledge sources and avoid plagiarism.

Sections

  1. Why is acknowledging sources important?
  2. How do you acknowledge sources?
  3. Test your knowledge!

Why is acknowledging sources important?

The Point of Class Writing Assignments

Writing assignments are not exercises in assembling a paper from different sources, they are designed to make you think for yourself.

In almost any job, you may be asked to gather information, evaluate and make decisions about the information, and present your conclusions to others. Your class writing assignments give you experience in using other people's work as a starting place for your own ideas and contributions

By acknowledging your sources, you give your work credibility and identify your ideas and the ideas of others.

Intellectual Property

The concept of ownership of information (also called intellectual property) is important to understand. In the United States, people own the copyright of their content from the moment of creation. In other words, as soon as an author writes an article, the author owns the copyright to that article. Copyright allows the author to control how the work is used.

Copyright ownership also applies to books, databases, Internet pages, computer programs, artwork, music, and even spoken words. The material does not have to be published to be protected by copyright.

Because of this culture of ownership, you must be careful to acknowledge the source of all material that you use. If you do not, you are not only guilty of plagiarism but could face legal charges of copyright infringement.

The Importance of Acknowledging Your Sources

Why is it important to acknowledge your sources?

What is Plagiarism?

When you take someone's words or ideas and present them as your own, you commit plagiarism. Plagiarism is using the work of others but not acknowledging the source.

Examples

You can use other people's work in your papers as long as you give credit to the original author.

Plagiarism Can Affect Your Life

Cite Your Sources

When you are in doubt about whether or not you should acknowledge something, use caution and cite the source.

Avoiding plagiarism is easy. Simply acknowledge your sources with a citation. A citation contains information that helps others find the information you are referring to.

To learn how to cite material correctly, continue to the next section.

How Do You Acknowledge Sources?

Acknowledging Sources with a Citation

To acknowledge sources, use a citation. A citation is a reference to specific material that you used to support your work. The information in a citation helps others find the work you are referring to and usually includes some of the following information:

Example Citations

Book (MLA 7th ed.)
Deiss, Joseph Jay. Herculaneum: Italy's Buried Treasure. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Print.

Journal Article from a Database (MLA 7th ed.)
Chernew, Michael. "Research and Reform: Toward a High-Value Health System." Health Services Research       44.5p1 (2009): 1445-48. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Sept. 2009.

About Citations

You should acknowledge the source of all information in your paper unless the material is your own ideas and research or the information is common knowledge.

When in doubt, acknowledge the source of the information.

In your paper you will likely have one or all of the following:

The next few screens will help you decide when you should acknowledge the source of the information.

Quoting and Paraphrasing Correctly

To include other people's words in your work, you can either quote the original material or paraphrase it.

Quoting

You are quoting material when you copy it word for word into your paper. Use quotation marks around the quote when you want the speaker to speak in their own words or when the speaker's words are especially distinctive.

When using quotes, you usually indicate the source of the quote (who said it) and acknowledge the source of the quote (where you found it).

Paraphrasing

When you paraphrase something, you restate it in your own words. You do not use quotation marks, but you must acknowledge the source of the paraphrase.

Quote Correctly

Quotations can be short or long. For short quotes, use quotation marks around the quote.

Examples of Short Quotes

When Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., the town of Herculaneum was buried in "Paleozoic amber" and thus was preserved for posterity (Deiss 23).

After Vesuvius erupted, "the dead cities were erased from human memory. Not only the sites but their very names were totally forgotten" (Deiss 24).

Deiss, Joseph Jay. Herculaneum: Italy's Buried Treasure. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Print.

Introducing a Quote

You may introduce a quote to your reader by using a phrase like:

Quote Correctly

Quotations are considered long if they take up more than four typed lines. For long quotes, set off the quotation by indenting it from the left. Quotation marks are not needed for long quotes, but you must still cite the quote.

Example of a Long Quote

At the time of the eruption that buried Herculaneum, few people guessed that Vesuvius was a volcano.

Its heights were silvery with the leaves of gnarled old olive trees, and its terraces grew fruit and grapes of enormous size. No one could have believed that this pacific mountain of groves and goatherds was in reality a slumbering volcano (Deiss 8).

Deiss, Joseph Jay. Herculaneum: Italy's Buried Treasure. New York: Harper & Row, 1985. Print.

Paraphrase Correctly

When paraphrasing, do not follow the structure or language of the original material too closely. Paraphrase from memory rather than looking at the source.

Tips for Paraphrasing

Plagiarism Examples

Look at the following examples to see how plagiarism can occur.

Original

Higher education is getting less, not more public financial support ... To stay alive, these schools are firing personnel, increasing class size, snuffing courses, limiting enrollment and cutting out some majors. But most of all, they're hiking their tuition and fees ... The cost crisis is resegregating higher education, not by color but by class.

Quinn, Jane Bryant. "Colleges' New Tuition Crisis." Newsweek 2 Feb. 2004: 49.

Plagiarism By Copying

To stay in business, schools are firing personnel, increasing class size, cutting courses, limiting enrollment and dropping some majors. But most of all, they're raising their tuition and fees. The result is that higher education is being resegregated, not by color but by class.

Passages in red are copied directly from the original without attribution or quotation marks.

Correctly Quoted

As public funding for higher education has decreased, colleges and universities have been forced to increase tuition and fees. According to Newsweek columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, "The cost crisis is resegregating higher education, not by color but by class (49)."

Quotation marks are used around the material and the quote is signaled by naming the original author. Also, the quote contains a citation to the original article.

Plagiarism Examples

Look at the following examples to see how plagiarism can occur.

Original

Higher education is getting less, not more public financial support ... To stay alive, these schools are firing personnel, increasing class size, snuffing courses, limiting enrollment and cutting out some majors. But most of all, they're hiking their tuition and fees ... The cost crisis is resegregating higher education, not by color but by class.

Quinn, Jane Bryant. "Colleges' New Tuition Crisis." Newsweek 2 Feb. 2004: 49.

Plagiarism By Incorrect Paraphrasing

Colleges and universities are getting less government money. To make up losses, they are reducing staff, classes, enrollment, and degree offerings while increasing tuition and fees. The result is that economic class now determines who can afford a college education.

Though the words have been changed, the overall order of the ideas in the passage is the same as the original.

Correctly Paraphrased

Newsweek columnist Jane Bryant Quinn asserts that economic status now influences who can attain a college education. This is important because as public funding for higher education has decreased, schools have raised tuition and fees. This discourages lower-income students from attending (Quinn 49).

The structure of the original has been changed, as have the words. Attribution of the idea of economic status is properly given. Also, the paraphrase contains a citation.

Plagiarism Examples

Look at the following examples to see how plagiarism can occur.

Original

Higher education is getting less, not more public financial support ... To stay alive, these schools are firing personnel, increasing class size, snuffing courses, limiting enrollment and cutting out some majors. But most of all, they're hiking their tuition and fees ... The cost crisis is resegregating higher education, not by color but by class.

Quinn, Jane Bryant. "Colleges' New Tuition Crisis." Newsweek 2 Feb. 2004: 49.

Plagiarism of an Idea

Enrollment on college campuses used to be influenced by race. Now because of increased tuition rates, it is a person's economic status that determines who can go to college.

The writer presents the idea of economic status determining college enrollment as their own, rather than attributing it to the original author.

Idea Correctly Cited

Enrollment on college campuses used to be influenced by race. But now, as Newsweek columnist Jane Bryant Quinn writes, economic status influences who can attain a college education (Quinn 49).

The idea of economic status determining college enrollment is properly attributed to Jane Bryant Quinn and includes a citation to the original article.

Including Other Elements

Other elements that you may include in your work are:

  • Artwork
  • Cartoons
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • Tables
  • Music

All of these elements must have their source acknowledged with a citation, even if the image or music was downloaded or copied from the web.

Freely distributable clipart does not generally need to be cited for non-commercial purposes, but check your end user license agreement for confirmation.

If you are not sure if it is freely distributable, cite the source.

Example (MLA 7th ed.)

Fig. 1. Vincent van Gogh, Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

About Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that is commonly accepted or found in multiple general reference sources.

You do not need to cite information that is common knowledge. Examples of common knowledge are:

What is Not Common Knowledge

If you add an interpretation or idea to the fact, that addition is not common knowledge and the source of the interpretation or idea must be cited.

Feffer, Loren Butler, Lee A. Paradise, and John Armstrong. "Did water once flow on the surface of Mars?" Science in Dispute. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2002. 41-47. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.

Mahoney, Dennis J. "Twenty-Second Amendment." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. Ed. Leonard W. Levy and Kenneth L. Karst. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. 2741-2742. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.

"Animal Farm." Novels for Students. Ed. Diane Telgen and Kevin Hile. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 1-23. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.

Original Ideas

As mentioned before, the point of class assignments is to develop and share your own ideas, not just assemble what you have read.

Your original work is the ideas and conclusions you have developed after conducting research. When you share your original work, you do not need to cite yourself as the author.

Examples

Examples of your original work that do not require a citation may include:

Citation Chart

What is it?Do you cite it?Notes
Quotations. A word-for-word copy of the original material.YesUse quotation marks around short quotes, indent long quotes.
Paraphrase. Restating the original material in your own words.YesDon't use quotation marks around paraphrasing unless you are including a distinct word or phrase from the original.
Graphs, images, or ideas from other people.YesAlso acknowledge music or even computer code created by others.
Common Knowledge.Information that can be found in multiple sources like encyclopedias.NoIf you are not sure if something is common knowledge, acknowledge the source.
Your own original ideas and work.NoYour interpretation of data, original compositions, or new hypotheses do not need to be cited.

Citation Style

When acknowledging your sources, there are many citation styles. A citation style tells you what information you need to correctly acknowledge your source and how the information should be presented. A few common examples of citation styles are MLA, APA, and Turabian. Your professor will tell you which format to use.

Example of MLA Style, 7th Ed.

Quirantes, Deborah. "Collaborative Approach to Autism: A Parent's Perspective." Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 14.3 (2009): 203-205. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.

Example of APA Style, 6th Ed.

Quirantes, D. (2009). Collaborative approach to autism: A parent's perspective. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 14(3), 203-205. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6155.2009.00199.x

Example of Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Ed., Bibliographic Entry

Quirantes, Deborah. "Collaborative Approach to Autism: A Parent's Perspective." Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 14, no. 3 (July 2009), http://search.ebscohost.com/ (accessed March 3, 2010).

Acknowledging Sources Quiz

The following quiz has 13 questions designed to test your understanding about how to avoid plagiarism.

A passing score is considered 70% or above. If you pass, a certificate appears in which you can enter your name before printing it for your records. You may also email your score to a teacher or professor.

You may retake the quiz as often as you like.

If your teacher or professor has instructed you to take the quiz in Blackboard, you may stop now and return to Blackboard to take the quiz.

Select the best definition of plagiarism





Question 1 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

You are fabricating sources when you make them up, but you are not plagiarizing. When you collaborate with someone without the instructor's permission, you are committing collusion. Both fabrication and collusion violate academic integrity, but they have separate definitions from plagiarism.

For a marketing class, you conduct a survey of students on campus. You include the results in your paper. Do you cite the source?



Question 2 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

You do not cite your own work, previously unpublished work.

Plagiarism does NOT apply to which of the following?







Question 3 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

Plagiarism does not just apply to words, it can even apply to ideas!

In class, your professor talks about a study she conducted. The results of the study have not been published, but you get permission to use the results in your paper. Do you cite the source?




Question 4 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

Even though the work has not been published, you cite the source since you did not conduct the study yourself.

Which sentence about citing is NOT true?






Question 5 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

A good explanation of common knowledge comes from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab: "Generally speaking, you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources. Additionally, it might be common knowledge if you think the information you're presenting is something your readers will already know, or something that a person could easily find in general reference sources. But when in doubt, cite; if the citation turns out to be unnecessary, your teacher or editor will tell you."

In making a determination of plagiarism, does it matter how much of the paper is copied?




Question 6 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

Even a few words or paragraphs with improper citation can be considered an act of plagiarism, but the consequences of the plagiarism may change in response to the amount copied.

Susan comes from a country whose educational culture does not emphasize the importance of citing sources. Because of this unawareness, she fails to cite major portions of her paper. When the professor charges her with plagiarism, she tells him about her country's expectations. Can Susan still get in trouble with the University?




Question 7 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

International students must abide by the same standards for academic integrity as U.S. students. If you need help with citing your sources, visit the university's Writing Center or the Libraries for help.

Which sentence about quoting is NOT true?






Question 8 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

Quoting is, by definition, a word for word recreation of the original; however, you may need to add information for clarity, omit parts of long quotes, or indicate that a peculiar spelling or construction is accurate. Your style manual can show you how to make these changes to quotes correctly.

Since Wikipedia articles can be written and changed by anyone and do not have an author listed, do you need to cite it as a source?




Question 9 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

If you are quoting or paraphrasing information from the Web-- even if it's Wikipedia, YouTube, or Facebook- you must cite the source.

Where can you go for help with citing sources?






Question 10 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

Your instructor should be the first place you go for help citing sources, but the Writing Center and the Libraries also provide help.

You start your persuasive essay on college football with these words adapted from Shakespeare:
"Friends, students, Mavericks, lend me your ears! I come to bury football, not to praise it."
Do you need to cite the original source of the quote?




Question 11 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

Generally, you do not need to cite something that is common knowledge like a famous Shakespeare quote; however, if you are unsure how well known the quote or saying is, check with your professor or err on the side of caution and cite the source.

To illustrate your paper on Hollywood entertainment, you use this well-known photo of Marilyn Monroe from Art.com. Do you cite the source?




Question 12 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

You should always cite the source for the artwork you use in your research. Citing art copied from the Web can be tricky- sometimes the site hosting the art is not the actual copyright holder to that work. Using a database like ARTstor, available through the UT Arlington Libraries, can help you find and cite images correctly.

Select the best definition of paraphrasing.





Question 13 of 13

Correct

Incorrect

When you quote a passage, you duplicate the passage word for word and surround it with quotation marks. When you paraphrase, you are taking a portion of the work, like a paragraph from an article, and restating that paragraph in your own words. If you were to write an abstract of the whole article, that would be considered a summary. Put simply, paraphrasing involves a small part of the work while summaries involve the whole work.