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Intro to Library Research: Cite Your Sources

This guide is a starting point for doing research at Wardman Library, finding and evaluating scholarly resources, and getting additional writing help.


DOI, or "direct object identifier" is a way to track articles and electronic documents on the web. Whereas the URL of a journal may change over time, the DOI for each article always stays the same. is a resource for looking up DOIs based on limited citation information and, reversely, for looking up citation information based on a known DOI.

What is a Citation?

Wikipedian Protester

A "citation" is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including: the author of the work, the title, the name and location of the company that published your copy of the source,the date your copy was published, the page numbers of the material you are borrowing.

This research guide will give you a brief overview of the most common citation styles and point you in the direction of more detailed resources and useful tools.

(image source: xkcd, used with permission CC by-nc)

Why Should I Cite Sources?

Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people's work without plagiarizing. But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:

  1. citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from.
  2. not all sources are good or right -- your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources. Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else's bad ideas.
  3. citing sources shows the amount of research you've done.
  4. citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.

“What is Citation?” Accessed February 16, 2011.

Plagiarism: Real Life Examples

Using Citations to Avoid Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense.

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)

Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent plagiarism. For more information, check out our Plagiarism Research Guide.

“What is Plagiarism?” Accessed February 16, 2011.