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Avoiding Plagiarism When Building Your Own Website:
A Guide to Citing Electronic Sources

Most of us have heard the term “plagiarism” and understand both the meaning and the consequences of committing plagiarism. To plagiarize as defined by Merriam-Webster is “to use (another's production) without crediting the source, to commit literary theft, to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own original material, and to present existing material as new and original an idea or product derived from a source.” If a student is caught plagiarizing serious consequences can occur. Students will fail the course, depending on severity of the crime, they can be suspended or expelled from school with their academic record marked. Students caught plagiarizing may not be able to get in graduate school. Professionals on the other hand can face much more serious consequences, in some cases they may face serious fines and possibly even jail time.

While most people understand how serious of an offense it is, not everyone does so it is very important to understand the consequences of plagiarism and how easy it is to avoid it by citing your sources. It is important to note that there are many websites that are guilty of committing plagiarism. When researching try to use respected authoritative sources of work and sites that end in .gov, .edu, .org. However, on the other end of the spectrum you will find sites that offer plagiarized content to use as your own work. These are known as “plagiarism mills”. Plagairism.com references a survey by Education Week that found “that 54% of students admitted to plagiarizing from the internet; 74% of students admitted that at least once during the past school year they had engaged in "serious" cheating…” To combat this an increasing number of schools and even some companies are requiring written works to be turned in plagiarism detection websites like turnitin.com.

Below you find links to help you better understand plagiarism and how to cite your sources. You will also find information on the different style guides, how they are used and what they are used for. Under each of the style guides you will also find examples of each of them to give you a clear understanding of how and when to use the style guide of your choice.

Plagiarism and Citation

As noted above, plagiarism in its simplest form is theft whether it is done intentionally or unintentionally. In some cases it is considered a crime and severe consequences can follow. Citing a source should always be done and if you ever wonder whether or not you should cite, cite your source. It's easier to do when the information is in front of you than going back later and having to sift through all the information again.

How to Cite Your Sources

Citation is the act of referencing a source, letting your readers know that the idea and written work is someone else’s. It is giving credit where it is due. It is also fairly easy to do. When citing online sources you will need to make sure the work is quoted. You will want to make sure that what you are citing is easily found by putting in the author’s or website’s name, adding a direct link to the work and even giving a little information about the site/author you are citing from. You can also add at the end of your written work a separate reference page with the name of the author, date, title of article and a direct link. Be sure to put the date into parentheses and note in block quotes what type of reference it is.

Specific Citation Styles:

APA - stands for American Psychological Association, which developed a specific scientific way of writing. It is considered to be straightforward writing for the behavioral and social sciences. It focuses on the clear and concise use of punctuation, abbreviations, citation and presentation of statistics.

MLA - (Modern Language Association) is the documentation developed for humanities with an emphasis on language and literature. MLA focuses on text citation in parentheses and works cited page in alphabetical order.

AMA - (American Medical Association) is the predominantly used for those in the medicine, heath and biological sciences. It focuses on citation at the end of the paper, which is in the same order as seen in the paper.

Turabian - style citation was developed as a complement to Chicago style citation and is used predominantly by college students who are required by their professors. Turabian focuses on end notes and a bibliography.

Chicago - (Chicago Manual Style) is used by authors, in academia, online publications and published works such as magazines. It allows for the seamless use of a mixed style of citation. In-text and footnotes are both allowed.


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