You’ll discover that different academic disciplines have different rules and protocols concerning when and how to cite sources, a practice known as “citation.” For example, some disciplines use footnotes, whereas others use parenthetical in-text citations; some require complete bibliographic information on all works consulted, whereas others require only a list of “Works Cited.” As you decide on a concentration and begin advanced work in your department, you’ll need to learn the particular protocols for your discipline. Elsewhere on this website, you’ll find a brief sampling of commonly used citation styles.
The five basic principles described below apply to all disciplines and should guide your own citation practice. Even more fundamental, however, is this general rule: when in doubt, cite. You’ll certainly never find yourself in trouble if you acknowledge a source when it’s not absolutely necessary; it’s always preferable to err on the side of caution and completeness. Better still, if you’re unsure about whether or not to cite a source, ask your professor or preceptor for guidance before submitting the paper or report.
1. Quotation. Any verbatim use of a source, no matter how large or small the quotation, must be placed in quotation marks or, if longer than three lines, clearly indented beyond the regular margin. The quotation must be accompanied, either within the text or in a footnote, by a precise indication of the source, identifying the author, title, place and date of publication (where relevant), and page numbers. Even if you use only a short phrase, or even one key word, you must use quotation marks in order to set off the borrowed language from your own, and you must cite the source.
2. Paraphrase. Paraphrase is a restatement of another person’s thoughts or ideas in your own words, using your own sentence structure. A paraphrase is normally about the same length as the original. Although you don’t need to use quotation marks when you paraphrase, you absolutely do need to cite the source, either in parentheses or in a footnote. If another author’s idea is particularly well put, quote it verbatim and use quotation marks to distinguish that author’s words from your own. Paraphrase your source if you can restate the idea more clearly or simply, or if you want to place the idea in the flow of your own thoughts—though be sure to announce your source in your own text (“Albert Einstein believed that...”) and always include a citation. Paraphrasing does not relieve you of the responsibility to cite your source.
3. Summary. Summary is a concise statement of another person’s thoughts or ideas in your own words. A summary is normally shorter than the original—a distillation of the source’s ideas. When summarizing other people’s ideas, arguments, or conclusions, you must cite your sources—for example, with a footnote at the end of each summary. Taking good notes while doing your research will help you keep straight which ideas belong to which author. Good note-taking habits are especially important when you’re reviewing a series of interpretations or ideas on your subject.
4. Facts, Information, and Data. Often you’ll want to use facts or information to support your own argument. If the information is found exclusively in a particular source, you must clearly acknowledge that source. For example, if you use data from a scientific experiment conducted and reported by a researcher, you must cite your source, probably a scientific journal or a website. Or if you use a piece of information discovered by another scholar in the course of their own research, you must cite your source. But if the fact or information is generally known and accepted—for example, that Woodrow Wilson served as president of both Princeton University and the United States, or that Avogadro’s number is 6.02 x 1023—you do not need to cite a source. Note that facts are different from ideas: facts may not need to be cited, whereas ideas must always be cited. Deciding which facts or pieces of information require citation and which are common knowledge, and thus do not require citation, isn’t always easy. For example, finding the same fact or piece of information in multiple sources doesn’t necessarily mean that it counts as common knowledge. Your best course of action in such a case may be to cite the most credible or authoritative of the multiple sources. Refer to a later section of this website, “Not-So-Common-Knowledge,” for more discussion of how to determine what counts as common knowledge. But remember: when in doubt, cite.
5. Supplementary Information. Occasionally, especially in a longer research paper, you may not be able to include all of the information or ideas from your research in the body of your own paper. In such cases, insert a note offering supplementary information rather than simply providing basic bibliographic information (author, title, place and date of publication, and page numbers). In such footnotes or endnotes, you might provide additional data to bolster your argument, or briefly present an alternative idea that you found in one of your sources, or even list two or three additional articles on some topic that your reader might find of interest. Such notes demonstrate the breadth and depth of your research, and permit you to include germane, but not essential, information or concepts without interrupting the flow of your own paper. Additional claims or analysis of your own that you want to include in your essay without distracting readers from the central line of argument may also appear in footnote form. In these cases, the footnote will not include a citation because the ideas or findings presented belong to you.
In all of the cases above, the standards of academic integrity require both citing the source in the text of your essay and its incorporation into your bibliography. To be clear, it is not enough to simply list a source in your bibliography if it deserves explicit citation in the essay’s body. Failure to provide that citation may result in being charged with plagiarism.
Sometimes, though rarely, a source merits inclusion in your bibliography even when it doesn’t merit a particular citation in your paper’s text. This most often occurs when a source plays a critical role in your understanding of your topic, but never lends a specific idea or piece of evidence to your essay’s argument. For example, imagine you’re writing a paper about totalitarian regimes, and your thinking about such regimes is heavily influenced by your reading of George Orwell’s 1984. Imagine further that nothing from the novel appears explicitly in your essay, and your strongest reference to the book is describing these regimes as “Orwellian” in passing. Here there would be no need to cite 1984 directly, but it would be appropriate to list it in your bibliography. As always, if you’re unsure about a particular case, err on the side of providing a citation and a bibliography entry.
For international students, it’s especially important to review and understand the citation standards and expectations for institutions of higher learning in the United States. Students who have done their college preparation at schools in other countries may have learned research and paper-writing practices different from those at Princeton. For example, students from schools in East Asia may learn that copying directly from sources, without citation, is the proper way to write papers and do research. Students in France, preparing for the Baccalaureate examination, may be encouraged to memorize whole passages from secondary sources and copy them into papers and exam essays. Those cultural differences can sometimes lead to false assumptions about citation practices and expectations at Princeton. Again, you are responsible for reading and understanding the University’s academic regulations as defined and explained in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities. You must ask for assistance from your professors or preceptors if you’re not sure.
The Writing Center, located in Whitman College, is also a key resource for students wanting to learn more about proper note-taking and citation practices. To make an appointment, visit www.princeton.edu/writing/appt or drop in without an appointment Sunday through Thursday evenings.
Writing a research paper is an important skill you need to learn. In order to do a paper properly you need to keep a few things in mind which will be outlined below. The most important thing is to be complete, be consistent and be thorough. Remember, the process is the important part. Before we begin, keep the following terms in mind:
Plagiarism: This is what you want to avoid. Plagiarism means using someone else's work and claiming it as your own. In reality it is a crime. Plagiarism can occur on purpose as well as by accident, either way it is wrong and must be avoided. If you plagiarize by accident the same penalties apply. The way we avoid plagiarism is by citing sources. After the paper is written and the sources have been cited then we must create a works citedpage. If the proper format for citing sources and the works cited page is followed then plagiarism can be avoided.
Citing Sources: Most high schools use the MLA (Modern Language Association) format. Check with your teacher to see if this format is acceptable in your school. Sources in these formats use the in line citation format. What this means is that anytime you cite a source, whether it be a direct quote or a paraphrase you must then insert an in line citation into the text of the paper. Typically the in line citation would consist of the authors last name followed by the page number with the entire citation in brackets. Here is an example: (Winthrop 24) The sentence period comes after the citation. More is to follow on proper in line citation format after this introduction.
Paraphrase: A paraphrase is an important part of writing a paper. Simply put the paraphrase is when you read another authors work and put it into your own words. It is also considered paraphrasing when you use statistics and research from another source. This is the most common citation in a paper. Proper paraphrasing is an art. This does not mean changing a few words around. It means taking the authors ideas, summarizing them into your own words and then using them. Of course you must cite every paraphrase with an in line citation. Paraphrases are mostly used to summarize paragraphs and main themes. Paraphrases are also used to cite statistics and other information. YOU DO NOT USE QUOTATION MARKS WHEN PARAPHRASING. More is to follow on citing the paraphrase.
Direct Quote: A direct quote is when you use another persons words directly in your paper. Knowing when to use a direct quote is important. Do not quote everything you want to say. Most things should be paraphrased. Use a direct quote when you want the reader to read an important historical line or it is something someone said that is important. Use direct quotes sparingly, there should only be a few in the paper and they better be good ones. The key difference in citing a direct quote is that you must put quotation marks around the sentence and then cite at the end. IF YOU FAIL TO USE QUOTATION MARKS AROUND A DIRECT QUOTE YOU ARE SAYING YOU WROTE THE SENTENCE. THIS IS PLAGIARISM!!! More information on direct quotes and direct quotes over four lines to follow.
Works Cited Page: This is the last page of your paper where you list, using the format shown below, all the books, articles, web sites, SIRS articles, magazines articles, etc. you have used. This must be done in the proper format. Proper format will be outlined in the following pages.
I highly recommend the following sites:
Citing A Paraphrase A PARAPHRASE IS:
- your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
- one legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
- a more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea.
Here is a sample paraphrase:
Original Text: (From Ron Bachman, "Reaching for the Sky." Dial (May 1990): 15.)
While the Sears Tower is arguably the greatest achievement in skyscraper engineering so far, it's unlikely that architects and engineers have abandoned the quest for the world's tallest building. The question is: Just how high can a building go? Structural engineer William LeMessurier has designed a skyscraper nearly one-half mile high, twice as tall as the Sears Tower. And architect Robert Sobel claims that existing technology could produce a 500-story building.
How much higher skyscrapers of the future will rise than worlds tallest building, the Sears Tower, is unknown. The design of one twice as tall is already on the boards, and an architect, Robert Sobel, thinks we currently have sufficient know-how to build a skyscraper with over 500 stories (Bachman 15).
Note the following. The writer never uses the exact words of the author therefore there is no need to use quotation marks. The writer summarizes, uses his or her own words and then cites the source at the end. Sometimes a paraphrase will be large and must be broken up. A good rule of thumb is to break up a paragraph that is completely paraphrased into two or three citations. The writer has given credit to the author and thus has avoided plagiarism. Now the author would just continue writing after double spacing.
Your paper will more or less be paraphrase after paraphrase linked together by your own words and analysis. You need to introduce, analyze and put into context the paraphrases you use. This is the nature of the research paper, after all, you are not the expert, they are. If you cite from the same author in the very next citation you do not have to put the authors last name in the in line citation, just the page number.
How much higher skyscrapers of the future will rise than worlds tallest building, the Sears Tower, is unknown. The design of one twice as tall is already on the boards, and an architect, Robert Sobel, thinks we currently have sufficient know-how to build a skyscraper with over 500 stories (Bachman 15). As a matter of fact the architect William LeMessurier claims he designed a skyscraper that is over a half a mile tall (15).
Citing a Direct Quote
Citing a direct quote uses the same form as citing a paraphrase. The differences is that you are using someone else's words directly. In order to avoid plagiarism you MUST USE QUOTATION MARKS unless the direct quote is over four lines.
Here is a sample direct quote:
Original Text: (From "Captain Cousteau," Audubon (May 1990):17.
"The Antarctic is the vast source of cold on our planet, just as the sun is the source of our heat, and it exerts tremendous control on our climate," [Jacques] Cousteau told the camera. "The cold ocean water around Antarctica flows north to mix with warmer water from the tropics, and its upwellings help to cool both the surface water and our atmosphere. Yet the fragility of this regulating system is now threatened by human activity."
The importance of the sea to the environment of the earth cannot be underestimated. "The Antarctic is the vast source of cold on our planet, just as the sun is the source of our heat, and it exerts tremendous control on our climate (Cousteau 17)."
Note the following. The first sentence is neither a paraphrase or a quote. It is the writers own words. The writer is introducing and placing the Cousteau quote into context.
Direct Quote Over Four Lines:
Use these VERY RARELY. A great speech or famous quote might justify using a direct quote over four lines. To do this skip a line, indent five spaces on both sides of the quote, single space and use italics. Place the citation on the next line to the lower right of the quote. Go to the next line and then continue with your paper. DO NOT USE QUOTATION MARKS.
Abraham Lincoln said in his famous Gettysburg Address:
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
What Lincoln was saying was that those that died had died for a cause. They had died to preserve the Union and to keep the United States together (67 - 68).
Note the following. The long quote follows the format prescribed above. The quote is also followed by a paraphrase from the same author.The citation is the name of the book you found the quote in, not the name of the writer of the quote, if they are different. You must however say who made the quote in prefacing or concluding use of the quote.
When the book has no author use a keyword from the title. Usually the first word in the citation. When there are two book by the same author designate one as book one and the other as book two. For example: (Winthrop1 282) and (Winthrop2 58-71).
Writing The Works Cited Page
Your works cited page is an essential part of the process. The works cited page is the last page of your paper and it tells the reader where he or she may find the sources cited within your paper. It is essential you use the correct form. Remember a few thing when organizing the works cited page:
- The works cited page must be labeled Works Cited Page. The label should be at the top center of the page.
- The sources on the page must be listed IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY THE AUTHORS LAST NAME.
- The first line of each entry is flush to the margin, all consequent lines within the entry must be indented five spaces.
- Entries in the works cited page should be single spaced. Double space in between entries.
Books and Reference Books
Frye, Northrup. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. New York: Harper Collins, 1957.
Two or Three Authors
Gesell, Arnold, and Frances L. Wilson. Child Development: An Introduction to the Study of
Human Growth. New York: Macmillan, 1960.
Four or More Authors
Spiller, Robert, et al. Literary History of the United States. New York:
No Author Named
Encyclopedia of Photography. New York: Crown, 1984.
A Work With More Than One Volume
Smith, Page. A New Age Now Begins. 2 vols. New York: McGraw, 1976.
A Work With An Editor
Swisher, Cleary, ed. The Spread of Islam. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
Two Or More Books By The Same Person
Boroff, Marie. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York: Norton, 1967.
---. Wallace Stevens: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Prentice Hall, 1963.
Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, and Other Sources
A journal or magazine whose page numbers continue to the next issue (continuous pagination)
Deluch, Max. "Mind from Matter." American Scholar July 1978: 339-53.
A journal whose pages start anew with each issue
Barthe, Frederick, and Joseph Murphy. "Alcoholism in Fiction." Kansas Quarterly
August 1981: 30-37.
A weekly, biweekly, or monthly magazine
Miller, Tyler. "The Vietnam War: The Executioner." Newsweek 13 Nov 1978: 70.
An article in a newspaper
Strout, Richard L. "Another Bicentennial." Christian Science Monitor 10 Nov. 1978: 27.
An anonymous article
"Drunkproofing Automobiles." Time 6 Apr. 1987: 37.
An article from a reference book
"Mandarin." Encyclopedia Americana. 1980 ed.
A signed article from a reference book
Coble, Parks M., Jr. "Chiang Kai Shek." Encyclopedia of Asian History.
Ed. Ainslee T. Embree. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988.
A government publication
United States Dept. of Labor. Bureau of Statistics. "Dictionary of Occupational
Titles." 4th ed. Washington: GPO, 1977.
A radio or television program
"The First American." Narr. Hugh Downs. Writ. and prod. Craig Fisher.
NBC News Special. KNBC, Los Angeles. 21 Mar. 1968.
Periodical information on CD-ROM
A source from NEWSBANK
McCullough, Peggy. "Juvenile Drug Use Prompts Test Push." (Memphis, TN)
The Commercial Appeal. 15 Jan. 1987. Newsbank: Health (1987):
fiche 3, grid G2.
A source from NY Times Ondisc
Angier, Natalie. "Chemists Learn Why Vegetables Are Good for You."
New York Times 13 Apr. 1993, late ed.: C1. New York Times Ondisc.
CD-ROM. UMI-Proquest Oct. 1993.
A source from Information Access
Shearson Lehman Brothers, Inc. "Reebok: Company Report." 29 July 1993.
General Business File. CD-ROM. Information Access. Dec. 1993.
A Source from InfoTrac
Anderson, George M. "Organizing Against the Death Penalty." America 3 Jan. 1988: 10+.
InfoTrac: Student Edition. CD-ROM. Gale Group. Nov. 2000
A Source from SIRS
Paliokas, Kathleen. "Trying Uniforms on for Size." American School Board Journal
May 1996: 33-35. School. Vol. 2. Art. 46. SIRS Researcher. CD-ROM.
SIRS. Inc., 1999
Other Electronic Sources
Danford, Tom. "Monday Greetings." E-mail to Terry Craig. 13 Sept. 1993.
Shaumann, Thomas Michael. "Re: Technical German." 5 Aug. 1994.
Online posting. Newsgroup comp.edu.languages.natural.natural. 7 Sept. 1994.
Material accessed through a computer service
Guidelines for Family Television Viewing. Urbana: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Elementary and Early Childhood Educ., 1990.
ERIC. Online. BRS. 22 Nov. 1993.
"Foreign Weather: European Cities." Accu-Data. Online. Dow Jones
News Retrieval. 20 Aug. 1993.
Web site - Article in an Online Newspaper, Magazine or Newswire
"Endangered Species Act Upheld." AP Online. 22 June 1998. 5 Dec. 1999
Note: the first date in an online entry, if it is available, is the "date published" and the second date is the date accessed. If there is only one date listed it is assumed it is the date accessed.
Web site - Information directly from a home page
The Hemlock Society. 14 Dec. 1999 <http://www.hemlock.org>
Web site - Information on a section of a site with a link from the home page
Miller, David. "Abolition of Slavery." Social Studies Help Center. 26 Jan. 2001. 29 Jan. 2001.
"NYCLU Opposes Internet Censorship in the Schools." NYCLU, New York Civil
Liberties Union. 9 Nov. 1999. 21 Dec. 1999 <http://www.nyclu.org>
Style and Other Hints
- Make sure your grammar, punctuation and spelling is perfect. Have someone else read and proofread your paper for you. We often do not see our own mistakes.
- Make sure you answer your thesis, stay organized and make sense!
- Never use "I" or write in the first person. Always write in the third person.
- Never begin a sentence with "because," "and," "however," or other linking words.
- Do not wait for the last minute. Your research will be shoddy and your presentation poor.
- Use a computer word processor. The enable you to be neat and to make changes. If you don't have one start early so you can use the computers available at school.
- Keep your paper on disk so that you can make changes and store the disk in a safe place. You may even want to have a copy of the disk for security.
- Make sure you organize yourself when writing the paper. Keep your notes together with the bibliographic information you will need. You don't want to forget where you found your information.
- Do not throw anything away until after your paper has been returned, you may need to defend yourself against plagiarism.
- Do a professional job, my expectations are very high!
- Putting together a research paper is like a puzzle. You have to fit together all of your research, quotes and paraphrases into a well organized document.
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