Section 6 – Citing Sources

Section 6 – Citing Sources

Transmitting Ideas

Ideas pass from person to person.

For example, ideas about using non-violent resistance to enact change have passed from Thoreau to Ghandi to ML King, Jr. to your ideas and research.

When you research a topic you may use information from articles, books, or the Web to support your ideas. However, you must credit the original authors of these sources by citing them. To cite means that you state where you found the information so that others can find the exact item again. In this way we build upon the ideas and knowledge of other people. 

Tips for searching and citing:

  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas.
  • Write down the complete citation information for each item you use.
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person’s words.
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas.

Parts of a Citation

As you do your research, keep a list of your sources—books, periodicals, and the Web.  (See the 'RESEARCH TOOLS' page on the GU Library website homepage for information on citation management software.)

Here is the type of information required for different types of citations:

For a book:  Author, title of book, place of publication, date of publication.

            Example:  Burenhult, G. Old World Civilizations: The Rise of Cities and States. San Francisco: Harper, 1994.

 For an article in a periodical:  Author, title of article, title of journal, volume and issue number, page number, date.

Example:  Hightower, J. E.  “Pastoral Counseling Training: Training Goals in a Changing Environment” Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, (February 24, 2009) 56(3),                                  243-254.

For sources on the Web:  Author, title of article, title of Web page, date viewed, URL

            Example:  Towns, Elmer L.  “How to Study and Teach the Bible”  The NTSLibrary. Accessed August  20, 2009.

                                       Books/How to Study and Teach the Bible.pdf

Citing Your Sources (Style Guides)

There are a number of different styles or formats for citations. Which style you use depends upon the subject discipline you are working in. If you are uncertain about which style to use, ask your professor.

Each style includes the same basic parts of a citation, but may organize them slightly differently.

Some Commonly Used Writing Style Guides:

APA (American Psychological Association)

The APA style is often used by students in the social sciences.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

The MLA (Modern Language Association) style is often used by students in languages and English.

A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, aka Turabian.

This commonly used style by Kate Turabian is a student version of a longer guide, The Chicago Manual of Style.

The Global University Form & Style Guide

Global University has its own unique academic citation style based on Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. All Global University students—graduate, undergraduate—and Berean School of the Bible—are asked to conform their papers to this style.

You may download a free copy of the GU Form & Style Guide from

Users of EndNote citation management software may download the Global University citation output style from


Plagiarism is presenting the words or ideas of someone else as your own without proper acknowledgment of the source. (Plagiarism is derived from Greek and Latin terms for kidnapping.)

If you don’t credit the author, you are committing a type of theft called plagiarism. 

When you work on a research paper you will probably find supporting material for your paper from works by others. It’s okay to use the ideas of other people, but you do need to correctly credit them. 

When you quote people—or even when you summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles, or Web pages—you must acknowledge the original author. It is plagiarism when you

  1. Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
  2. Cut and paste passages from the Web, a book, or an article and insert them into your paper without citing them.  Warning!  It is now easy to search and find passages that have been copied from the Web.
  3. Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them.
  4. Paraphrase that person’s words without citing them.

Plagiarism?  It’s Your Call!

Plagiarism ranges from copying word-for-word to paraphrasing a passage without credit and changing only a few words.  Below is a sentence from a book. The original source is followed by its use in three student papers. Each student’s version is followed by comments[1] that indicate if the passage would be considered plagiarism.

Original Passage

Still, the telephone was only a convenience, permitting Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.[2]


The telephone was a convenience, enabling Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

Comment: This is plagiarism in its worst form.  Abbie does not indicate that the words and ideas belong to Boorstin, leaving her readers to believe the words are hers.  She has stolen the words and ideas and attempted to cover the theft by changing or omitting an occasional word. 


Daniel J. Boorstin argues that the telephone was only a convenience, permitting Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

Comment:  Even though Brian acknowledges his source, this is plagiarism. He has copied the original almost word for word, yet he has not supplied quotation marks to indicate the extent of his borrowing.


Daniel J. Boorstin has noted that most Americans considered the telephone as simply “a convenience,” an instrument that allowed them “to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.”

Comment:  Chad has done a good job. He has identified his source at the beginning of the paragraph, letting readers know who is being quoted and has provided a footnote directing them to the exact source of the statement. He has paraphrased some of Boorstin’s words and quoted others, but makes it clear to the reader which words are his and which belong to Boorstin.

Five Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. First, use your own ideas.  It should be your paper and your ideas should be the focus.
  2. Use the ideas of others sparingly—only to support or reinforce your own argument.
  3. When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use.
  4. Use quotation marks when directly stating another person’s words.
  5. A good strategy is to take 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes.  It will help you think through what you want to say and help prevent your being too dependent on your sources.

And then there’s Copyright

©opyright insures that the person who created something—whether a book or a piece of music—is reimbursed for his intellectual work. If there were no copyright protection, there would be no economic incentive to create these works.

A copyright is a set of legal rights that an author has over his work for a limited period of time. Copyright covers everything from using images or sound files from the Web to photocopying. 

Most information is protected by copyright. The exception is work that is in the “public domain,” which can be reproduced or used by anyone. However, you still must credit the author. 

Some examples of public domain sources:

  • Publications of the U.S. Government
  • Copyright has been waived by the author
  • Works on which the copyright has expired  (Ex. William Shakespeare)
  • Software called freeware

Great! You have completed Citing Sources and should be able to:

  • describe when to cite sources used in your work
  • recognize different parts of a citation
  • list ways to avoid plagiarism
  • understand the reasons for copyright.

You are now ready to take the Self-test.


1.  You don't need to credit someone's ideas as long as you change some of their words. (Choose one.)

            A.  True

            B.  False

2.  The type of information that you need for citing sources include: (Choose all that apply.)

            A.  Date

            B.  Author’s Name

            C.  Issue

            D.  Title of Journal

            E.  URL

3.  Because the Internet is free you can download and use anything on it. (Choose one.)

            A.  True

            B.  False

4.  You can avoid plagiarizing by: (Choose all that apply.)

            A.  Using quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.

            B.  Using the ideas of other people sparingly and only to support your own argument.

            C.  Taking notes about your sources, including citation information for each source—
                  even Web sources.

            D.  Writing a short draft of your paper in thirty minutes without using your notes.

5.  If the U.S. government is the publisher, the material is not protected by copyright. (Choose one.)

            A.  True

            B.  False


Answer key:

            1.  This statement is false.  Even if you paraphrase, you must acknowledge the ideas of others or you are committing plagiarism.

            2.  All of these are elements used in citing sources, depending on the type of source (Web, a journal article, a book, etc.). This is the type of information you will need when you cite your sources.

            3.  If you are cutting and pasting text from the Web, you must acknowledge where the material came from by citing it. Otherwise, you are guilty of plagiarism. If you download images, music, or files you need to get permission so that you don’t violate  copyright.

            4.  All of the above are good ways to help keep you on track and your paper free from plagiarism.

            5.  True.  Works published by the U.S. Government Printing Office (the largest publisher in the world) are copyright free! This means the Constitution of the U.S. and publications from U.S. government agencies are in the public domain. These works may be duplicated and used, but credit still must be given to the author when there is one.

[1] Excerpt, examples, and commentary are from James M. McCrimmon, Writing With A Purpose, page 499.)

[2] Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience, page 390.