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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

International Student Guide to Using the MPAL: Citing Sources

Citation Resources at the MPAL

Tips About Citation

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using someone else's work without giving him or her credit, leading your readers to think those words are yours. While this might seem easy to avoid, many people who plagiarize do so unintentionally. Although most people think of plagiarism as recording someone's exact words without crediting him or her, it also includes re-arranging someone else's words (paraphrasing) or using his or her ideas. These forms of plagiarism are more common and require careful attention to avoid.

Why should I cite my sources?

According the Arizona State University LibGuide on Citation and Plagiarism, there are four main reasons to cite:

  1. To acknowledge the author(s) of the work you are using in your paper.
  2. To demonstrate that the sources for your paper are of good quality and that the paper is well-researched.
  3. To allow readers to follow up on ideas mentioned briefly in your paper by finding the sources of the ideas and reading further.
  4. To give readers a context for your work and to provide links to others who have researched about the topic so readers can explore what else has been said about it.

The main reason not to plagiarize is because doing so is unfairly attributing ideas of someone else to yourself, whether or not you intend to.

When should I cite my sources?

  1. When using the exact words from a source. Make sure you should put those words in quotation marks, record the words exactly as you see them, and cite the source. 
  2. When using the ideas from a source. Regardless of the vocabulary you use, you must cite ideas you use from a source, provided they are not "common knowledge," or facts that are known by most people (such as that there are four seasons in a year). If you are ever in doubt of whether or not to cite an idea, ask a professor or reference librarian, or go ahead and cite the source.
  3. When paraphrasing from a source. If you use a very similar writing structure to convey an idea from a source but make a few changes, that source must still be cited. Also, be carefully not to paraphrase too closely to your source--if you are extremely close to quoting the source, either do so, or take some time to filter the information through your understanding and rephrase it.

When you aren't sure if you should be citing a source, make sure to ask your professor or at the reference desk. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003. Print.

Izenstark, A. "Citing Correctly and Avoiding Plagiarism." University Libraries: Libguides @ URI. The University of Rhode Island, Nov. 2009. Web. 8 Feb. 2012.

Oetting, Ed. "Citation & Avoiding Plagiarism." Literature Reviews and Annotated Bibliographies. Arizona State University, 2007. Web. 08 Feb. 2012.

Style Guides & Tools

There are a variety of generally accepted ways of citing sources, and these citation styles are outlined in what are called style guides. The most common styles of citation in music are MLA, Turabian, and Chicago styles, but you'll need to ask your professor which style he or she would prefer for your assignment.

The rules for citation are set out carefully in these guides, so consult them frequently when putting together your in-text citations and works cited page. On this page of the LibGuide you'll see links to style guides in the MPAL to the left and various helpful sites with citation rules and citation-creating machines below.

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