Citing Sources

Citations are brief notations in the body of a research paper that point to a source in the bibliography or references cited section.

What to Cite

Plagiarism occurs when another author's words or ideas are "borrowed" and not acknowledged within a paper.  This is considered stealing someone's intellectual property and is a serious offense within the academic community.  The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources, within the body of your paper, known as in-text citations and as part of a bibliography of sources that you consulted for your paper. 

You MUST cite:

  • Facts, figures, ideas or other information that is not common knowledge.
    • Note: if an idea or information comes from another source, even if you put it in your own words (i.e. paraphrasing), you still need to credit the source.
    • You do not need to cite accepted common knowledge. Common knowledge is information that the majority of people either know or can find in a number of sources. Common knowledge is generally factual information that is beyond dispute, such as the periodic table, historical dates, country capitals, however, if you are not sure the information you are using is common knowledge, then cite it.
  • Ideas, words, theories or exact phrases that another author used in their publications.
    • The rule of thumb is if you are quoting three or more consecutive words from a source, you need to cite the source and put the words/phrase into quotation marks. 

Sources to cite include:

  • scholarly sources such as books, book chapters, journal articles
  • Blogs, social media, websites
  • YouTube videos, podcasts


APA Style: Quotations

Scribbr: How to Quote: Citing Quotes in APA, MLA and Chicago Style

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summerizing

Johns Hopkins University Library: Common Knowledge

Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching & Learning: Common Knowledge

Last Updated: Aug 11, 2023 1:53 PM