Intentional use without attribution of someone else’s work fully or in part is considered academic misconduct, known as plagiarism. Plagiarism is the taking of someone else’s ideas, words, or other work and using it as your own, without correctly acknowledging the source. Even accidental or unintentional plagiarism can be cause for a charge of academic misconduct.
It is important to correctly cite your sources so as to prevent plagiarism and so that you are not claiming another’s work as your own. However, good citations serve other purposes as well.
Correct citations acknowledge the work that has been done before yours. They set your work in the context of others’ efforts, and honors their contributions to the understanding of the topic you are working on. For an academic work, correct citations help the instructor know that you understand the material you are studying, and can demonstrate how your ideas build on or respond to the work of others. Citations also show the connections you have made with other works and give your readers the opportunity to access and consider the materials themselves. Additionally, by clearly identifying others’ work, citations help to separate and identify the unique contributions that you are making to the understanding of a topic.
In addition to failing to cite a source copied word for word, Kate Turabian suggests that students avoid the following:
(Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: 7th Edition. Chicago:The University of Chicago Press, 2007.)
This online style guide shows the basic formats for most types of citations in Turabian (Chicago) style:
You can find style guides for other formats fairly easily online as well, or purchase a simple handbook if you prefer a hard copy. As you prepare to write, be sure to determine whether your instructor prefers in-text citations or footnotes.
For other assistance with avoiding plagiarism, see these resources: