8.5 Use Information Sources Effectively & Avoid Plagiarism

Now let’s talk about how to actually include the sources and avoid unintentional plagiarism. Organization your research and sources can help with this.

Preventing plagiarism starts at the beginning of your research assignment as you gather your sources. Here are a few tips:

  1. Make Notes: Anytime you find a source to use in your research, read through it, and make notes of the useful information. You can do this by printing and highlighting, saving documents with comments in Google Drive, or writing index cards with information from each source. If you create an outline for your paper, start filling in the sources that support each of the points of your outline. Whatever your organization method, make sure that you can easily identify the information you want to include in your paper and the source where it came from.
  2. Cite in the First Draft: A common mistake that many students make is not including citations in early drafts of their paper, or only including something informal (like one word to describe the source they used). This habit can lead to confusion in later drafts when you’re trying to go back and include citations. Solve this problem by writing your full citation as soon as you start inserting information from your sources in your first draft. Including the citation right away will ensure that as you reorganize and improve your drafts, you don’t accidentally overlook or mistakenly cite information incorrectly.
  3. Get Help: There’s no way you can master all of the citation styles that are out there, and as a student you are still learning about the writing process. Take advantage of resources like the college writing center, the tutoring center, and the library for assistance with including information from sources effectively. We can review your citations and give you tips for organizing your research. Don’t be afraid to ask for help- it’s what we are here for!

Practice Activity

Check your understanding of citing with the Is this Plagiarism? activity. This activity will open in a new tab.

Please note: The last page of the activity makes a reference to returning to Canvas. Instead, please return to this book to finish the chapter.

Citation Resources

There are many resources out there that provide detailed descriptions of specific citation types, including how to create proper in-text and bibliography citations, as well as formatting requirements for papers. Here are some go-to places to troubleshoot your questions:

MLA Specific Resources:

APA Specific Resources: