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English and American Literature: Citing Sources

A resource guide for the study of English and American Literature

Bart says . . .

Bart Simpson writing "I will not plagiarize another's work" repeatedly on a chalkboard

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What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism (pronounced: play-juh-riz-um) is the act of taking someone else’s words, ideas, or information and passing them off as your own. If you don’t give credit to the author of these ideas in footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography, you are committing plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense.

Students, in the process of learning, acquire ideas from many sources and exchange ideas and opinions with classmates, professors, and others. This occurs in reading, writing, and discussion. Students are expected—often required—to build their own work on that of other people, just as professional researchers and writers do. Giving credit to someone whose work has helped one is courteous and honest; in fact, not to give such credit is a crime. Plagiarism is the severest form of academic fraud. Plagiarism is theft. 

More specifically, plagiarism is presenting as your own:

  • a phrase, sentence, or passage from another writer's work without using quotation marks;
  • a paraphrased passage from another writer's work;
  • facts, ideas, or written text gathered or downloaded from the Internet;
  • another student's work with your name on it;
  • a purchased paper or "research" from a term paper mill.

Other forms of academic fraud include:

  • "collaborating" between two or more students who then submit the same paper under their individual names.
  • submitting the same paper for two or more courses without the knowledge and the expressed permission of all teachers involved.
  • giving permission to another student to use your work for a class.

Proper acknowledgement marks the difference.  It is your responsibility to know what constitutes plagiarism. Not knowing citation standards is not an excuse. When in doubt, err on the side of over-documentation and cite the source. You can also ask your professor, teaching assistant, or a librarian for help in determining what is and is not plagiarism. 


Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help you automatically harvest, organize, and edit citatations to many types of sources, and will also allow you to format bibliographies. RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero are the three main citation management tools that the NYU Libraries support. We offer classes in each of these tools at the beginning of the semester. See the research guides below for more information about each of them.

Style Guides

For more information on citation styles, see the NYU Libraries' citation style guide or Purdue University's Online Writing Lab's site.