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Citing Sources

Citation style guides, sample papers, tips on how to avoid plagiarism, and RCC Writing Center information

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Plagiarism: What it is and how to avoid it

According to Randolph Community College’s academic policies, plagiarism is  “the use of another’s original words or ideas as though they were your own” (“Academic”). [1]  Instances of plagiarism include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Turning in someone else’s work as your own.
  • Copying a phrase, sentence, or passage from someone else or another source (Internet, print media, etc.) without proper citation.
  • Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks.
  • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation.
  • Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not.
  • Downloading or buying a term paper from the Internet and submitting it as your own work. (“Academic”)

Plagiarism is a serious offense and, in some situations, is a crime punishable by law.  Many institutions view plagiarism as stealing or theft.  Therefore, it is important to know how to avoid it.  Here are some suggestions to help avoid plagiarism in your writing assignments:

  • Do not use the copy and paste function.
  • When brainstorming, come up with as many original ideas as possible.  It is okay if you have the same ideas as another expert (this is a good thing!).  When you include your original ideas in your own essay, be sure to cite the expert who agrees. 
  • Maintain organization during the research process.  Keep source information separate and use highlighters and note cards to make references visible. 
  • Always use quotation marks when you borrow someone else’s words.
  • Always provide source information for statistics, data, graphs, charts, and drawings – or anything not considered common knowledge.
  • Even if you change the order of words or make it sound better by adding or deleting some phrases, include the source details (i.e., author’s last name, year of publication, and page numbers) immediately after the borrowed information, but before the period.
  • When in doubt, ask your instructor.

[1] “Academic Integrity.” Randolph Community College. 2012. Web. 13 August 2012 <>

For additional information visit:

Introduction to Citing

Why Do I Have to Cite?

To Build Upon the Research of Others
Citing your sources demonstrates to your audience that your arguments and conclusions are not based solely upon your own opinion or biases, but are supported by the findings of other researchers.

To Give Credit When It's Due
Citing information allows you to demonstrate exactly what information you took from another researcher and it shows what information is original to your work.

To Allow for Further Research
When you cite others' research in your work, you are giving your audience the sources they need to seek out additional information related to your topic.

To Avoid Plagiarism!
Plagiarism is a serious offense at Randolph Community College and is subject to disciplinary action. Plagiarism is the act of not giving credit to the sources of information you use in your writing. 

What Do I Have to Cite?

Direct Quotes
When you quote directly from a source.
When you rephrase, reword, or summarize information from a source.

Arguments and Terminology
When you make use of another person's argument, idea, or specific terminology.

Graphs, Charts, Photographs, Drawings, etc.
When you use or glean information from another person's graph, chart, photograph, drawing, or other representation of information.

Citing Your Sources Video


"Thank you" to Surry Community College Library, Dobson, NC and Corcoran College of Art & Design Library in Washington, DC for allowing us to borrow content from their LibGuides.