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Citing Sources in MLA Style  

Basic guidelines for documentation according to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook.
Last Updated: Nov 17, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Why Cite Sources?

Giving credit to the original author of thoughts, words, and ideas is an important ethical concept.

  1. To avoid PLAGIARISM: While a Works Cited page or bibliography does not prevent plagiarism, it is an important tool in avoiding plagiarism.
  2. BUILDING on research:  Pertinent information is gleaned from the ideas of those who came before, and a researcher then produces new knowledge by integrating the ideas of others with his/her own conclusions. This is the scholarly research process.
  3. TRACING research: According to Joseph Gibaldi, the author of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, “In presenting their work, researchers generously acknowledge their debts to predecessors by carefully documenting each source, so that earlier contributions receive appropriate credit. . .” (126). This is the basis for all scholarship. It is important that researchers give credit so readers can trace the ideas presented back to the sources.
  4. CONTRIBUTING ideas: A contribution to disciplinary knowledge is the unique way student writers have the opportunity to interpret and synthesize the words, thoughts, and ideas of authorities. In fact, giving credit to experts and authoritative sources gives the writer's conclusions validity that cannot be achieved by simply stating his/her own opinions.
  5. LOCATING additional research: The citations provided in a paper allow readers the opportunity to access the cited materials in order to learn more about the topic.

Is it Plagiarism?

Here are some sites discussing Plagiarism...

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