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Research Process


There are so many reasons to cite your sources! A citation identifies for the reader the original source from which you incorporated the words, ideas, images, and other information into your own work. No one wants to get in trouble, but avoiding plagiarism isn't the only reason to cite your sources. For example, a citation will allow you to:

  • Help others find the information that you used. Contribute to your readers' research process by giving them the opportunity to follow up on your source material. This form of "citation chasing" is a common and legitimate approach to expanding one's research.

  • Give yourself some credit. When you cite, you validate your own academic integrity and hard work. Strategically integrating credible and scholarly citations to support the claims you make demonstrates critical thinking, elevates the quality of your work, and is generally expected in college level writing.

  • Give credit to others. When you incorporate the words and ideas of other scholars, be fair by acknowledging them with a proper citation and connecting your work to theirs in a meaningful way.

  • Join the scholarly conversation. As a student, your research provides an entry point for you to engage with a community of scholars in your field. You do this by reading the works of others, building upon their ideas, attributing credit when necessary, and perhaps even publishing your own work so others can converse with you.
Watch this video (3:22) to learn more:

What is a Citation?

A citation is composed of bibliographic elements such as author, title, publication date, page numbers, volume/issue, and URL that are arranged in a particular order defined by the citation style you are using (for example MLA or APA).

To be complete, an in-text citation corresponds to a full citation in the bibliography (sometimes called Works Cited or References).

You DO Need to Cite

You DO NOT Need to Cite

  • If you’re quoting from, paraphrasing, or summarizing another author's work, in any format including: web pages, books, songs, television programs and anything else you can think of that someone else created.
  • If using an image, chart, or diagram created by someone else.
  • If you're using your own thoughts, ideas, opinions, observations, or experimental results.
  • If you're using common knowledge; ideas or facts that are not common knowledge


Image of MLA and APA HandbooksAn accurate citation requires the right elements in the right order with the right punctuation based on the rules of a particular citation style. There are two places where you will cite your sources; within the text of your document and at the end, in your References or your Works Cited list.

Get help with in-text citations, Works Cited/References, and paper formatting with the guides below.


Try NoodleTools Citation Manager!

noodletools logoNoodleTools is more than a citation tool. It is a research-management system that can help you:

  • Create citations in MLA, APA, and other formats, and then export them into your paper;
  • Plan, gather, and organize your research with electronic notecards;
  • Collaborate with classmates and instructors by sharing bibliographies;
  • Much more...

Visit the NoodleTools Guide to get started!

Do Those Words and Ideas Really Belong to You?

Whether intentional or accidental, plagiarism involves taking the words and ideas of others and representing them as your own. Plagiarism is a serious violation with potentially dire consequences, which raises important questions:

  1. Why is plagiarism wrong? It hurts the original creator of the content, and it's dishonest.
  2. How can I avoid committing plagiarism? Cite your sources! 
  3. What are common types of plagiarism? According to
  • Global plagiarism: Presenting an entire text by someone else as your own work.
  • Verbatim plagiarism: Directly copying a passage of text without citation.
  • Paraphrase plagiarism: Rephrasing someone else’s ideas without citation.
  • Self plagiarism: Reusing passages and ideas from your own previously submitted work.
  • Mosaic plagiarism: Combining text and ideas from different sources without citation.​
  • Incorrect citation: Failing to give all the necessary information in your source citation


Maricopa Community College District Defines Plagiarism as Cheating

"Plagiarism is a form of cheating in which a student falsely represents another person’s work as his or her own – it includes, but is not limited to: (a) the use of paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment; (b) unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials; and (c) information gathered from the internet and not properly identified." (MCCCD Scholastic Standards, 2.3.11 Academic Misconduct)

Here are some resources to help you learn more about plagiarism: