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IB Program - Pensacola High School

Why Cite?

"Your first duty as a researcher is to get the facts right. Your second duty is to tell readers where the facts came from." --Kate Turabian

The purpose of any citation method is the same: 

  • to give credit and appropriately attribute the work of others
  • to assure readers about the accuracy of your facts
  • to show readers the research that informs your work
  • to help readers follow or extend your work

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism, one form of academic misconduct, is defined in the ‘Code of Student Conduct’ within the UWF Student Handbook as “the act of representing the ideas, words, creations or work of another as one's own."  The document further explains that “plagiarism combines theft with fraud.”   

Simply stated, plagiarism is stealing another person’s intellectual property or using someone else's work without giving him or her appropriate credit.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines intellectual property as follows:

1.  A category of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect; the category comprises primarily trademark, copyright, and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition.

2.  A commercially valuable product of the human intellect, in a concrete or abstract form, such as a copyrightable work, a protectable trademark, a patentable invention, or a trade secret. 

Plagiarism can take many forms, including each of the following:

  • Copying from published sources without adequate documentation.
  • Purchasing papers or other work from commercial sources (either by mail or electronically).
  • Allowing another person to write a paper for you.
  • Paying another person to write a paper for you.
  • Submitting someone else’s unpublished work as your own, either with or without that person’s permission.
  • Copying and pasting text from online media, such as encyclopedias, or from any Web site.
  • Transcribing text from any printed material, such as books, magazines, encyclopedias, or newspapers.
  • Simply modifying text from any of the above sources. For example, replacing a few select words with one's own does not constitute original work, and is, therefore, plagiarism.
  • Using photographs, images, video, or audio without permission or acknowledgment. You may use photographic, video, or audio sources created by others in a paper or multimedia presentation that you create, as long as you do not profit from it or use it for any purpose other than the original assignment. You must, however, provide acknowledgment of its source and include the source in your bibliography.
  • Using an essay that you wrote for another course or purpose without getting permission from the instructor of both the current course and the course in which the original work was submitted. This is known as SELF-PLAGIARISM. You may, however, use your previous work as a basis for new research, if the original work is cited and included in your bibliography.
  • Translation from one language to another without giving proper credit to the original author. Translations must be cited under the same guidelines as those for quotations and paraphrases. 

Avoiding Plagiarism: A Tutorial

Watch this brief video for help understanding and avoiding plagiarism:

Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Take careful notes, being sure to use quotation marks around everything that comes directly from another text.
  • Remember that any text, images, or ideas that you incorporate into your writing that you did not create yourself must be documented. This includes direct quotations; paraphrases; ideas gained through conversation, correspondence, and other means; and all other information that is not “common knowledge.”
  • Paraphrase what you’ve read, but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words from the original passage. Instead, read carefully through what you intend to paraphrase and then rewrite the idea in your own words without using the original work as a guide.
  • Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you have not unintentionally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate.
  • Maintain an accurate bibliography of all sources you have consulted. When taking notes, write down the author or title and page number of the source - even if you are paraphrasing rather than quoting directly. 

Quoting, Summarizing, & Paraphrasing

Whenever you quote, summarize, or paraphrase, you must acknowledge the original source. If you do not directly credit your source in a citation, YOU ARE PLAGIARIZING!

If you quote a source, you must quote exactly, word for word, and then cite the source within your paper using a footnote.

Like direct quotes, the sources for summaries and paraphrases must also be cited. Cite these exactly as you would a quotation. Because summaries and paraphrases are merely condensed versions of someone else's work, you must give the original author credit for the information. 

Copying & Pasting

Copying and pasting, rendered both easy and potentially tempting by the wealth of the information available via the Internet, also constitutes plagiarism. If you copy a passage electronically from an online source, you must place it in quotations and cite its source.

What is Common Knowledge?

Common knowledge consists of facts and sayings that are well known by a large number of people or information that is included in multiple sources.


  • John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States in 1960.
  • Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.

Because these are generally known facts, they are considered common knowledge and do not, therefore, need to be cited. You must, however, document facts that are not well known and ideas that interpret facts. 


  • According to the American Family Leave Coalition's new book, Family Issues and Congress, President Bush's relationship with Congress has hindered family leave legislation.6

The idea that "Bush's relationship with Congress has hindered family leave legislation" is not a fact, but an interpretation. Consequently, you need to cite your source.