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 Binghamton University Student Academic Honestly Code, which is outlined in the University Bulletin under Academic Policies and Procedures - All Students.

The code outlines what are the principals of academic honesty, what violates those principals, and what are the punishments students can receive for violations of the code. 

What is academic honesty?

The Binghamton University Student Academic Honesty Code defines violation of the  academic honesty code as "the principle that [..] involves misappropriation of academic or intellectual credit to oneself or to the credit of others." 

Some specific examples, though not inclusive, include cheating; multiple submissions of one assignment, unauthorized collaboration, fabrication and misrepresentation of work or authorship, sabotage, forgery and bribery.

Plagiarism is another violation of the Student Academic Honesty Code.

What is plagiarism?

The Student Academic Honesty Code defines plagiarism as "Presenting the work of another person as one's own work (including papers, words, ideas, information, computer code, data, evidence, organizing principals, or styles of presentation) of someone else taken from the Internet, books, periodicals, or other sources."

How can plagiarism be avoided?

While researching:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to do research.

  • While doing your research, take notes of your sources and how you found those sources in case you need to relocate them.

  • When you take notes for your papers, be sure to keep track of the sources you are using, and 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 plagiarism in your final work.

  • If you plan to use a direct quote, copy it exactly and indicate in your notes that it is a quote and not a paraphrase.  Cite the page number(s) when available in the appropriate style.
  • Cite your sources as you write.  Don't wait until the end of the paper to try go back in and add your citations.

  • if you are not sure if something needs citing, ask your professor, or make an appointment at the B.U. Writing Center for additional assistance.

What does it mean to "cite" something?

When you cite something you give credit to the appropriate source for quotes, information, and ideas that are not your own.     Credit should be given to the sources that are directly quoted from, as well as the sources consulted for ideas used in your research.

What has to be cited?

A comprehensive list that can cover all possibilities in your research is impossible to create.  However, if you follow these guidelines, you are likely to lower your chances of committing plagiarism:

  • Cite all quotes, direct or indirect, as well as all sources of material that you have paraphrased
  • Provide citations for ideas presented that are not your own
  • Cite statistics and data, unless they are derived from your own data analysis
  • Cite all pictures and illustrations not created by you
  • Cite all sources that are in the public domain.  Even though they are not protected under copyright, their citation still remains an issue of academic integrity
  • Online sources used and consulted, including web pages, online articles, email discussions, blogs, listservs, discussion boards, etc.

Information that can be considered "common knowledge" does not need to be cited. Common knowledge refers to information and facts that are widespread, such as the dates of historical events or the chemical formula of water. Common knowledge can also be information that you knew about your subject without doing research. However, common knowledge can change depending on your research and your academic level - something that is well known to a biologist may be new information to you.

A good rule is that if you are not sure if something needs to be cited, talk to your professor or cite it.


How do you cite your sources?

Citation is done according to a specific style, which provides rules for the formatting of the bibliography, reference list, or footnotes; how to refer to the citations in the text; and how to format the text of the paper, graphs and charts within the paper and writing conventions for the field.  Common citation styles include APA, MLA and Chicago Style, although many subjects and journals have their own styles.

Your professor may require the use of a specific style,  or leave it up to you to pick one that you feel most comfortable.   What is important is that you use a specific style and stick with it consistently throughout the paper.

How does RefWorks help?

RefWorks allows you to save citations of materials that you have used in your research into your own database. It then generates your in-text citations, footnotes, and citation lists for you.

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

RefWorks can not, however, determine if or when something needs to be cited.  And while 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.