This guide will direct you to information and resources on using different citation styles for your course projects.
In this guide you will find generic information about the importance of citing your sources, different citation styles you may be asked to use, and links to helpful plagiarism and citation related resources. You will also find useful information on how to incorporate resources into your paper using quotes, paraphrases and summaries, as well as information on patchwriting and how to avoid it.
Already know what citation style you need to use? Use the navigation tabs on the left to jump to the guide for that style and find the information you need.
Have questions or need further assistance? Contact a librarian!
Citation styles are specific methods of formatting research papers and projects and citing sources to give appropriate credit to authors for their ideas and work.
The two main citation styles you are likely to use in your courses are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).
Additional citation styles you may use include Chicago, and AMA (American Medical Association).
Citing is important because it...
(adapted from Overview - Citing sources - LibGuides at MIT Libraries)
|Type of Content/Information||Definition & Examples||Do I Cite it?|
|Quotes||When you use exactly the same words used by a source||Yes|
|Paraphrases or Summaries||When you reword or summarize the sentences or ideas presented in a work using your own words||Yes|
|Visual Materials (graphs, images, etc.)||When you reference or include a piece of artwork, diagram, chart or other visual element not created by you in your work||Yes|
|Facts & Statistics||Data collected and/or reported by another agency or person
ex.) 88.1% of Norwalk, CT residents age 25 or older have a high school degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
|Words or Ideas not your own (regardless of medium - i.e. text, spoken word, computer code, music, interview, etc.)||When you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise reference any words or ideas not your own, including but not limited to information gathered through an interview, computer codes, and music||Yes|
|Common Knowledge||Basic information that can be found in multiple sources
ex.) Historical events (including dates), myths & folklore, "common sense observations"
|Your own Thoughts, Ideas, or Experiences||When you write about your own lived experiences, form your own conclusions, interpretations, or thoughts about a topic or piece of information, create your own work (artwork, music, writing, etc.)||No|
|"Generally accepted facts"||Facts that are widely accepted to be true globally or within a particular discipline
ex.) Exercise is good for your health.
Check out Purdue OWL's "Should I Cite This?" flow-chart for help deciding if something should be cited.
Common knowledge is generally understood to be any information that the average, educated person would know or accept as true without needing to look it up.
The Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning defines common knowledge as information "that most educated people know or can find out easily in an encyclopedia or dictionary."
Purdue OWL says that common knowledge refers to information that can be found uncited in at least 5 reliable sources.
In keeping with the definitions of "common knowledge" above, there are three main categories that common knowledge could fall into:
(inspired from What is Common Knowledge? | Academic Integrity at MIT)
Since the concept of "common knowledge" is so broad consider the following questions when deciding whether to cite something that could be considered common knowledge in your work:
Plagiarism is when you intentionally or unintentionally use another person's words or ideas without giving them proper credit (i.e. citing them) and pass off their ideas or words as your own. At it's most basic level, plagiarism is intellectual theft.
The CSCU Student Code of Conduct defines plagiarism as "the submission of work by a student for academic credit as one’s own work of authorship which contains work of another author without appropriate attribution."
|Intentional Plagiarism||Unintentional Plagiarism|
(adapted with permission, Purdue University Online Writing Lab - Plagiarism FAQs)
Plagiarism is a very serious offense and depending on the intent and level of plagiarism you could face consequences ranging from relatively minor to severe. If you are found to have plagiarized, some possible consequences you might face include:
See the CSCU Student Code of Conduct beginning on page 25 for more information on disciplinary procedures and sanctions at CT State Community College.
The best way to avoid plagiarism is to ALWAYS cite your sources, whether you're quoting a source directly, paraphrasing, or summarizing words, or ideas from another person or entity. Both in-text citations and works-cited entries are always necessary. Below are some specific tips on avoiding plagiarism:
*Be cautious when using a citation generator! Citation generators are machines that take the available information and format it into a citation using the indictated style (i.e. MLA, APA, etc.). Since they are automated, they can be prone to error including missing information or mistakes in formatting like missing punctuation or italicis. As such, you should ALWAYS double check the citation generated by a machine and make sure it's accurate yourself. Use the resources available in our citation guides to check the correctness of a citation or ask a librarian for help.
For more information, see Purdue OWL's guide on Using Citation Generators Responsibly.