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Research Basics: Citation and Plagiarism

Citation Guide Contents

This guide will help you with the following: 

Using Information Legally and Ethically

The legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of information goes beyond avoiding plagiarism and properly citing sources.

Researchers should be knowledgeable about issues related to:

  • privacy
  • censorship
  • freedom of speech
  • intellectual property
  • copyright fair use

For more information, check out our guide outlining Copyright Law.

What are citations actually?

When your instructor tells you to "cite your sources," he or she means that you have to let your reader know if you took words, ideas, pictures, statistical information, or anything else from another place. 

Citations are like quick directions to the resource. They include all the important information to help someone track down that specific resource. This includes: 

  • author name(s)
  • titles of books, articles, and journals
  • date of publication
  • page numbers
  • volume and issue numbers (for articles)

Depending on which style you use, they will look a little different. There are many different styles: MLA, APA, CSE, CBE, ACS, Chicago/Turabian (CMS), IEEE, NLM/AMA, and IMRAD are all different citation styles that you might be asked to use sometime.

Regardless of the style, citing your sources is important. Giving authors the credit they deserve, helping other readers track down interesting information you referenced, giving evidence of your research, and making sure you cannot be accused of plagiarism are all good reasons of why it is important. 

However, beyond that, trust and honesty are one of the best characteristics of TCTC students. And trust and honesty is an important part of respect. Everyone should be able to trust that their ideas will be respected. Stealing ideas is no better than stealing someone's things. And that's just not what we stand for here at TCTC. We respect, trust, and honor each other. And that is really why citation is important. 

Safe Assign

Safe Assign

SafeAssign is a tool used by all TCTC English instructors to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase.  It is based on a text-matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a submitted paper and source materials. After a paper is processed, a report is generated detailing the percentage of text in the submitted paper that matches existing sources.

Submitting your paper in SafeAssign is done within BlackBoard.  If you have difficulty, please contact your English instructor.

Plagiarism and Citation Styles

Why do we even bother with citations?

It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:

  • It let's your reader know you've gathered your information from valid resources
  • It shows academic integrity to give credit to people who work hard to develop ideas
  • To make evident that you are not guilty of any kind of plagiarism
  • To help your reader find the sources you've found so they can read or learn more about your subject matter.