Avoiding plagiarism and citing your sources is key

A very basic definition of plagiarism is to take someone else's work or ideas and pass them off as your own. Plagiarism can be intentional (like buying a paper from someone else or purposefully using another person’s ideas without giving them credit) or unintentional (accidentally forgetting that an idea in your notes isn’t your own and not citing it when you include it in a paper or project). It’s important to take detailed notes so you’ll always remember when and where to give credit to your sources!

By citing the sources you use for your research, you’ll be accomplishing three things:

  • You’ll avoid plagiarizing and give proper credit to your sources, thereby demonstrating academic integrity.

  • You’ll demonstrate the scope of your research and establish your credibility on your topic.

  • You’ll provide your reader with a trail to follow to locate the sources you used so they can read more about your topic.


Tips for citing your sources:

  • Many databases (and even the Libraries catalog) include a “Cite This” button, but these automatic citation generators often make mistakes. Be sure to double-check the formatting of the citations they create using the citation resources linked from this Find Citation and Writing Style Guides page, which has examples for APA, Chicago, and MLA style citations.

  • If you’re using a reference management program like Zotero, EndNote, or Mendeley to keep track of your sources and create citations, double-check the formatting – these programs often make formatting mistakes when generating citations.

    • New to citation/reference management software and not sure how to get started? The Libraries offers free workshops to help you get started! Visit z.umn.edu/workshops and use the filter to limit to "Citation Managers" to see when they're happening and sign up:

      A screenshot of the filter tool built into z.umn.edu/workshops to help with filtering to just Citation Manager sessions.

If you have questions about citations or need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kat Nelsen, Anthropology Librarian (kgerwig@umn.edu) and Jessica Abbazio, Music Librarian (jabbazio@umn.edu)!

Last Updated: Oct 4, 2021 2:03 PM