Citing Sources

Learn how to cite your sources

Documenting Sources: When, Why, and How to Cite

Documenting Sources

Research papers, Qualifying Projects, and other writing that incorporates information or ideas from sources must include suitable documentation of the sources.

You must provide documentation when:

Quoting directly from a source (copying the words of another)

Paraphrasing ideas or information from a source (rewriting a passage in your own words)

Incorporating into your paper information or ideas that are not general knowledge

The documentation may take one of the following forms:

Parenthetical citations in your text following the borrowed passages, plus at the end of your paper a list of works cited

Foototes or endnotes, that is, raised numbers following the borrowed passages in your text, plus citations either at the bottom of your pages or at the end of your paper.

By documenting your sources you:

Demonstrate to your reader how your own ideas stem from, differ from, or relate to those in your sources;

Support your ideas by showing that authorities in the field have similar ideas;

Assist your reader, who may want to look further into the sources that you found helpful;

Share intellectual activity honestly and properly.

Check with your professor or project advisor about which form of documentation is appropriate to your field and topic, and about books that give specific instructions about documentation.


Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using the words information ideas of another without properly documenting them. The WPI Academic Honesty Policy clearly specifies that plagiarism, the misrepresentation of the work of another as your own, is an act of academic dishonesty. It is also academically dishonest to allow another person to copy your work and present it as his/her own work. Cases of deliberate plagiarism can result in loss of credit for the assignment or the course project during which the plagiarism is committed. A serious act of plagiarism can result in the student's suspension from WPI.

Students will avoid plagiarism by learning to use and document sources correctly.

Citing Sources

This video is approximately 4.5 minutes.


In this video, we'll learn how to avoid plagiarism, and how to properly cite sources.

Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism can take many forms, such as using someone else's term paper, copying passages from books or websites without citations, using someone else's words without credit or paraphrasing someone else's work without citing them. You can avoid plagiarism by using your own ideas, using the ideas of others only to support your own arguments, using quotation marks when directly stating another's words, and remembering to write a complete citation for each source while you take notes.

Citing sources. Citing sources shows the research you've done, strengthens the ideas you present, differentiates your work from the work of others and allows readers to follow up on your work through its original sources. There are many styles of citation, and the one that you use will depend on your field of research. The social sciences use APA, Humanities use MLA, History uses Chicago, and engineering papers vary by field.

Now, let's find the citation information needed for 3 types of sources: an article, a book and a website.

To cite an article, you need to know its title, author or authors, the journal in which it was published, volume and issue number, date of publication and page number.

To cite a book, you'll need to know its title, author or authors, date of publication, publisher, and the city and state in which it was published.

To cite a website you'll need its author, which may be a corporate author, title, date of publication and date accessed, the date on which you retrieved the information.