Citations are notes that indicate that you used information from other sources in your own work. They tell your readers which sources you used, where in your work you built on the other sources, and how to track down those sources if they want more information.
Citing your sources gives evidence to support your claims, allows you to build on other people's prior work, gives credit to the original author(s), and tells your readers how to find the sources you used.
Plagiarism is "[th]e action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own1."
Plagiarism can be intentional, like copying a paragraph word-for-word from another source or borrowing too much from an original source's words or sentence structure.
Plagiarism can also be unintentional, which happens when you aren't sure how to cite your sources properly.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) offers guidance on how to avoid plagiarism and cite sources in the most popular styles. Their guides on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing and Avoiding Plagiarism will help you learn the basics and avoid unintentional plagiarism.
Looking for additional support? Contact the Library's Research Help Desk or make an appointment with Lauren (the GPS librarian). While we are not able to proofread your citations for you, we will help you understand how to cite your sources properly and work through a few example citations with you. We can also help you figure out how to cite tricky sources, like stuff you find online.
A citation usually has two parts:
The format of your citations will look a little different, depending on which citation style you're using. Sometimes instructors tell you which citation style to use (i.e. APA), and sometimes you get to pick a style.
Purdue OWL offers in-depth, easy-to-use guides on many of the most common citation styles:
1 Plagiarism. (n.d.) In Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/144939.