Beg, Borrow and Steal: Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

A 3-Part Series

Part Three: Works Cited and Citations

In part one of our series on how to avoid plagiarism, we discussed the differences between intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Part two covered the intricacies of the paraphrase. In the final installment of our three-part series, we’ll cover what many students feel is one of the most difficult things to write: the Works Cited page.

Why do you need a Works Cited Page?

Students often find compiling their Works Cited page – the final page of a research paper that lists all of the sources a writer has used in the paper – a complicated and daunting task. Well-written papers are often marked down because of a failure to include all of the research presented in the paper in the list of Works Cited, or a failure to format the Works Cited correctly, or both. Failure to include all sources used in the paper on the Works Cited page is a form of unintentional plagiarism because you have used a source but not given the original author credit.

Why are you required to provide a Works Cited page with your research paper? For readers who are interested in your topic and would like to read more about it, a Works Cited page allows your audience a way to easily locate the books, journals or articles you have referenced and read more on the subject. Failing to list sources accurately on a Works Cited page is frustrating for readers who would like to study more about your topic.

Works Cited Entries

Leroux, Marcel. Global Warming: Myth Or Reality?: The Erring Ways of Climatology. New York: Springer, 2005. Print.

The entry above is an example of what a print-based entry looks like on the Works Cited page.  This entry indicates that Marcel Leroux is quoted, paraphrased or summarized somewhere in the paper. Usually, instructors will look at the Works Cited page, and then flip through the paper to find where the source was cited. If either the in-text citation or the entry is missing, you could be accused of unintentional plagiarism.

 In-Text Citations

The source’s entry on the Works Cited page is only one piece of the puzzle. You must also cite that source in-text, which means the quote or paraphrase you have used from that source must be followed by a page number if it’s available, an author’s last name if it is not clear who the author is, or the title of the article if no author is given. An in-text citation for Marcel Leroux might look something like this:

Ex. 1:     Many scientists believe global warming is a myth (Leroux 21).

If Marcel Leroux’s name is given in an attributive tag, his last name does not need to be in the citation:

Ex. 2:      According to Marcel Leroux, author of Global Warming: Myth or Reality, many scientists believe global  warming is a myth (21).

If you have used any kind of information attained from a source, whether it is a direct quote, a summary or a paraphrase, you must always cite the source both in text and enter it on the Works Cited page. Failure to do both is a form of unintentional plagiarism.

As you can see, compiling an accurate Works Cited page and citing sources in-text can often be confusing, but writers can find a myriad of help from a good handbook or from reliable online sources, such as Purdue Owl. Avoid guessing when it comes to how to cite an entry, and always try to find how to cite your source before you go to your instructor for help. Chances are if you can’t locate information on how to cite your type of source, your instructor probably would have to look it up too. Part of writing research papers is learning how to cite research and create a Works Cited page.  For more questions on citations or Works Cited, several links have been provided below.

Purdue Owl – MLA
Purdue Owl – APA
Purdue Owl – Chicago Style
MCC Citation Help
Cornell Citation Help


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