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Why Cite Sources?

Why Cite Sources?

So what's the big deal about citing sources anyway?
If you do not cite sources you are stealing someone else's work or ideas.

Now that might not sound like a big deal, but to campus it is and if you are caught stealing someone's ideas or work its called plagiarism. If you are caught plagiarizing a document then the University will punish you ranging from your instructor asking you to redo your bibliography to being kicked out of CSUS. Yes, you read correctly, the University can and will kick out students who plagiarize. Read more about the Academic Dishonesty Policy at

So the key is to avoid plagiarism. How? Below are some tips to avoid plagiarizing a document:

If in doubt, cite it!
If you are not sure whether you should cite a passage or concept, do it. Unless something is accepted as common knowledge like “Columbus sailed in 1492” then in general it is a safe idea to simply add a citation, either in text, in a footnote, or a parenthetical citation.

Make a works cited page as you write your paper.
While you are writing and including citations to strengthen your arguments or prove points simply make a note in your bibliography and works cited page. That way you will not need to hunt through all the resources at the end of the project trying to remember which idea or sentence came from whom.

Take a test to see if you understand Plagiarism.
The Indiana University School of Education has an online test to check your skills at detecting plagiarism.

Refer to your Style Manual frequently.
No matter what citation style you are using check the style manual frequently to see how they cite sources and create bibliographies. The APA manual has an excellent example of a research paper and is a valuable resource to consult if and when questions arise.

Check out these links to other sources on citation and plagiarism

CSUS Library: Plagiarism Information for CSUS Students and Faculty

CSUS Writing Center Home page

CSUS Library: Style Guides

CSUS Library: APA Style Guide (APA 5th Edition)

CSUS Library: MLA Style Guide

CSUS Library: Citing Electronic Sources

Remember when in doubt CITE IT!


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this page created and maintained by: Reza Peigahi, Instruction Librarian, CSU, Sacramento