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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Citing Sources: APA, MLA & Chicago Styles: Avoiding Plagiarism

Definition of Plagiarism

University of Texas Libraries provides a helpful definition of plagiarism.

Why Should I Document Sources?

When you conduct research, you gain an understanding of a topic by becoming familiar with the work of other scholars in the field. To make a valid scholarly contribution, you need to gather background information, look up original sources, and read previous studies. Only after you have done all this work, can you begin to formulate your own ideas on the subject.

 It is necessary to document, or acknowledge, the sources you consult during your research.

  • By crediting your sources, you establish your credibility as someone who has accumulated an extensive knowledge of a subject.
  • When you cite your sources, you also show that you can back up your claims and conclusions with valid evidence.
  • No less importantly, providing a list of all the works you have consulted ensures that your readers can find the very sources you have looked up.  
  • It is also important to attribute the ideas that influenced your work in order to avoid any charges of plagiarism.    

You should also familiarize yourself with the John Jay College Policy on Academic Integrity. The college defines plagiarism as “the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own.”

Plagiarism in the News

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Is It Plagiarism?

University of Texas Libraries put together a quiz that teaches you to recognize instances of plagiarism.

What Do I Need to Cite?

Also from University of Texas Libraries, a quick guide to the kinds of information and sources you need to document.