To tell your reader that certain pieces of your writing originally came from another source, use citations. By doing so, your reader can find the original source. Citations give information on things like the author(s), title, date, and publication information. Citing material that comes from another source in your writing is a step in avoiding plagiarism. Missed or improperly cited material can cost you marks, or worse, you may be accused of academic misconduct.
These three tips will make citations easy, help avoid plagiarism & save your academic record.
1. Invest in a Style Guide: When you start a ‘pathway program’ you should buy a book that gives advice on writing styles and citations in your discipline. Native speakers of English use these style guides as well; they are not just for the language learner. Try A Pocket Style Manual by Nancy Sommers and Diana Hacker. University library sites also offer resources and tools for the emerging writer to access and use. One go-to website for my students is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
2. Keep Good Records: When you get your writing topic and start doing research, collect information on the sources you read in a simple table. Include the author(s), title, and the website. It will be much easier to format the information when it comes time to do in-text citations and references. And you won’t have to check your search history to remember where you first read a critical piece of evidence to support your arguments or prove your thesis.
3. Use Citation Tools…Cautiously: There is online software available to help with citations. Programs like Refworks let you input citation information and generates a reference. Scholarly databases also offer ready-made references in various citation styles. But as the saying goes…nothing is as easy at it seems. The offerings can be wrong. You have to know the basics of formatting references and in-text citations before you can cut corners. Remember, the responsibility lies with the writer to present the information accurately to the reader. Your professor won’t take technology as an excuse for not being thorough.