Citation Help & Academic Honesty

How to cite sources and images using APA, MLA, Chicago and other styles and information on academic honesty and plagiarism avoidance.

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Academic Honesty Code

All students at Binghamton University are obligated to abide by the University’s Student Academic Honesty Code, which is available in the Bulletin under “Academic Policies and Procedures - All Students” (copies of the code are also distributed to students during Orientation).

While the code does not offer a definition of academic honesty, it does explain that “academic dishonesty involves misappropriation of academic or intellectual credit to oneself or to the discredit of others.” The acts of academic dishonesty listed as examples in the code include plagiarism, cheating on exams, multiple submissions, unauthorized collaboration, fabrication, misrepresentation, forgery, sabotage, and bribery.

The code also provides information on its implementation, publication/dissemination, and interpretation.

What is plagiarism?

The Student Academic Honesty Code defines plagiarism as follows:

“Presenting the work of another person as one’s own work (including papers, words, ideas, information, computer code, data, evidence-organizing principles, or style of presentation of someone else taken from the Internet, books, periodicals or other sources). Plagiarism includes:

  • quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing without acknowledgement, even a few phrases;
  • failing to acknowledge the source of either a major idea or ordering principle central to one’s own paper;
  • relying on another person’s data, evidence or critical method without credit or permission;
  • submitting another person’s work as one’s own;
  • using unacknowledged research sources gathered by someone else.”

Richard Wightman Fox, a professor of history at USC, offers students this advice on the issue:

“Don’t claim the ideas or words of someone else as your own. Do use the ideas and words of others to help develop your own. Do have friends read and comment on drafts of your papers. Always give explicit credit when you use anyone’s exact thoughts or language, whether in paraphrasing or quoting them. Give an acknowledgment to someone who’s helped you overall. Intellectual work is about developing and sharing your ideas, and it’s about taking note of and praising other people who have shared good ones with you.”

From his 2004 article “A Heartbreaking Problem of Staggering Proportions,” in Journal of American History 90, no. 4 (p. 1346).
Stable link: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3660353.

How can plagiarism be avoided?

Plagiarism can be avoided by citing your sources. Here are some additional tips:

  • When you receive an assignment, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to do research.
  • While doing your research, take careful note of your sources and how you found them (you may need to relocate them later).
  • When you take notes for your papers, write the information in your own words, instead of copying it word for word, or changing just a few words in the sentence. Paraphrasing ensures that you understand the material, and reduces the chance of accidental plagiarism in your final work.
  • If you plan to use a direct quote, copy it exactly and clearly indicate in your notes that it is a quote. Be sure to write down the page number when applicable.
  • Cite your sources as you write. Don't wait until the end of the paper to go back in and add your citations.

If you're unsure of whether you need to cite something, you can consult your instructor, ask a librarian, or make an appointment at the Writing Center for additional assistance.

What does it mean to "cite" something?

When you cite something you are giving credit to the appropriate source for information, ideas, words, or images that are not your own. Citations also help you build a strong argument by demonstrating your credibility to your reader(s).

Depending on the particular context, giving credit to a source may take different forms. In academic work, giving credit is done with formal citations following a specific style like APA, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, or others. In other contexts, credit may be given in a less formal manner. For example, Twitter users retweet rather than copy/pasting another person's words and representing them as their own.

What has to be cited?

Cite direct quotes, paraphrases, summaries, statistics/data, charts/graphs, and images.

Citations are required regardless of whether material is protected by copyright or in the public domain and regardless of medium.

Do not cite information that is common knowledge. This includes information and facts that are widely known, such as the dates of historical events or the chemical formula of water. What's considered common knowledge may vary depending on the subject area or your audience. If you're unsure whether something is considered common knowledge for the purposes of a particular assignment, consult your instructor.

How do you cite your sources?

Citation styles provide rules for writing and formatting in-text citations (i.e., parenthetical citations, footnotes, or endnotes) and source lists (e.g., bibliography, works cited). These styles also provide guidance on how to format the text of the paper (including use of graphs, charts, and images) and writing conventions for the field.

Common styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style, but many subjects and journals have their own styles.

Your instructor may require the use of a specific style or allow students to choose. Either way, what's important is that you use the style  consistently throughout your paper.

How can RefWorks help?

RefWorks is a citation management tool that allows you to save citation information for materials that you're using in your research. With that information, RefWorks is able to generate your in-text citations (parenthetical or footnotes) and bibliographies in any style.

RefWorks allows you to easily keep track of what materials you have consulted, and since it works with  , it's easy to go back to the full-text of sources that we have available. You can also annotate your citations with your own notes. RefWorks is also compatible with most of the Libraries' databases and external services such as Google Scholar, so you can import citations directly into RefWorks, making it less likely that you will forget to record necessary information.

However, RefWorks cannot determine if or when something needs to be cited. When using RefWorks, it is still necessary to review the final formatted paper, since errors contained in the original information saved in RefWorks, including spelling errors, will appear in the final product. 

For more information, see the Libraries' RefWorks guide.