Thing to Remember!
  • Every time you use an author's words, ideas, or images, you must make that clear in your paper.
  • Citing your sources is important because it gives the author proper credit, and distinguishes your own thoughts from those of others.
  • It is plagiarism if you don't cite all your sources (text, images, movies, etc.).
  • Plagiarism can have serious consequences, including failing the course, academic probation, or expulsion from Brooklyn College.

LOOP » Doing Research » Plagiarism & Citation

Citing Your Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

What's Plagiarism? It's Easier To Commit Than You Think!

Whenever you use another person's words, ideas, or images in your own work, you must make that use clear. Even when you don't quote an author directly, if you use that author's ideas in your own paper, you must give the author proper credit. If you don't give an author credit where credit is due, that's plagiarism.

How do you give an author proper credit?

You cite them! All the fuss that your professors make about citation styles like APA and MLA is because they want you to give authors credit for their words, ideas, and images. A citation does just that. Citations also allow the readers of your work (your professors) to locate, consult, and further examine the sources you used.

What's a citation?

Here's an example of an in-text citation in APA style. It is not a direct quote, but paraphrases some of the authors' ideas:

Immigration can be challenging for family life because second generation immigrants internalize values of the host country more strongly than their parents (Merz et al., 2009)

Here's the corresponding full citation in APA style that should appear in the list of References:

Merz, E., Oort, F., Özeke-Kocabas, E., & Schuengel, C. (2009). Intergenerational family solidarity: Value differences between immigrant groups and generations. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(3), 291-300.

I Need to Cite Images? Really?

Yes! Even if you find an image on Google, you will still need to cite it as you would any other source, because somebody owns the copyright to it. Citing images can be challenging, but the basic information you will need to include is: the artist's name, the title of the work, the date of its creation, the format, the owner of the work, and the city or country of origin.

If the image was reproduced in a printed source such as a book or article, you will also need to include the author, title, publisher, date, and page number.

If you found the image online you will also need to include the date of access and the URL of the web site or the name of the database.

Here's an example of an image citation in MLA style:

Picasso, Pablo. Blue Room. 1911. Painting. Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. ARTstor. Web. 29 April 2010.

Research is Original

If you cite other authors in your own work, it shows your professor that you have done your research--that you've read what other people have to say on your topic so that you can formulate a research question that's uniquely your own. Research is, by definition, original! If you are just repeating what someone else has already said, that's not research.

Why Is Plagiarism So Boring?

It IS boring to be warned again and again about plagiarism. We agree! But the consequences of plagiarism are SERIOUS. At Brooklyn College, plagiarism can lead to failing the class, academic probation, or even expulsion from the College. For more information about plagiarism and its consequences at Brooklyn College, read the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity.

Help with Citing Your Sources

Here are two great web sites for how to properly cite your sources using MLA and APA styles. These websites give you lots of examples for how to cite books, articles, images, and online resources such as ebooks, journals, and websites:

http://www.dianahacker.com/resdoc/
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

Have a question about whether your use of an author's work constitutes plagiarism? We can help!

  1. Stop by the Brooklyn College Library's Reference Desk, located on the 1st floor of the library, or use our Ask-A-Librarian service.
  2. Bring your paper into the Brooklyn College Learning Center, located in 1300 Boylan Hall. Writing tutors will sit down with you and help you confirm that you're citing your sources properly.