Plagiarism is the act of taking another person’s writing, conversation, song, or even idea and passing it off as your own. This includes information from web pages, books, songs, television shows, email messages, interviews, articles, artworks or any other medium. Whenever you paraphrase, summarize, or take words, phrases, or sentences from another person’s work, it is necessary to indicate the source of the information within your paper using an internal citation. It is not enough to just list the source in a bibliography at the end of your paper. Failing to properly quote, cite or acknowledge someone else’s words or ideas with an internal citation is plagiarism.
What is an Internal Citation?
An internal, in-text or parenthetical citation refers to the practice of giving credit to an author, singer, or speaker by citing their words/ideas within your paper. This internal citation is then referenced at the end of your paper in your ‘Works Cited’ list (see below).
Internal citations are sometimes called parenthetical citations because they’re enclosed by parentheses. It’s helpful to think of internal citations as a kind of “tag” indicating what you’ve borrowed from an author. For every sentence, phrase or idea you borrow you must “tag” it with an internal citation. Each internal citation is then listed alphabetically in a ‘Works Cited’ page at the end of your paper.
Borrowing the work’s structure, format or style without giving credit is also considered plagiarism. It is important to remember that merely changing the wording is not enough.
What is a Works Cited Page?
A Works Cited page, also known as a bibliography or reference list, comes at the end of your paper listing all the works (books, articles, Internet sites, etc.) you’ve quoted, paraphrased or otherwise used to create your paper. The citations are usually listed alphabetically by the authors’ last names and typically include the name of the publication, the publisher/date of publication, and the volume, issue and pages if applicable. How works are internally cited and how the citations are arranged in the “Works Cited” page will be determined by the Style Guide (MLA, APA and Turabian) specified by your teacher.
What is ‘Common Knowledge’?
Common knowledge needs no internal citation in a paper. Common knowledge includes information that is considered a well-established fact verifiable in five or more sources. It also includes common sayings and proverbs (“look before you leap”) and historical dates, places and events.
An example of common knowledge needing no citation: Jane Austen was born in 1775.
What is a ‘Unique Phrase’?
A unique phrase does need an internal citation. A unique phrase is one which is coined by an author and used commonly by other authors in a specific genre or discipline, but it is not necessarily a common fact or phrase used by everyone.