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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

International Student Guide to Using MPAL

This guide provides tips and resources for international students (or other students!) who need a little extra help doing college-level research at the Music & Performing Arts Library.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using someone else's work without giving them 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 them, it also includes re-arranging someone else's words (paraphrasing) or using their ideas without proper attribution. These forms of plagiarism are more common and require careful attention to avoid.

Cultural differences concerning academic integrity can vary, so please read through this page to understand the expectations and policies for academic integrity here at the University of Illinois so you can ensure you do not commit an infraction accidentally.

Quick Guide: When & Why to Cite a Source

To avoid plagiarism, always cite your sources! This means clearly noting whose words or ideas your are referencing in your own work. This box will walk you through when and why to cite. For citation resources including software to help you manage your citations and style guides to help you format citations accurately and appropriately, make sure to check out the next page of this guide!

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 the fact 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!


Why should I cite my sources?

There are several important reasons to cite:

  1. To acknowledge and point to the author(s) of the work you are using in your paper.
  2. To demonstrate that the sources for your paper are reputable, of good quality, and relevant to your research. This also gives your own work more credibility by showing your readers that your paper is well-researched.
  3. To allow readers to follow up on ideas mentioned 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.

Citation and proper attribution shows respect for the work and ideas of others and is an essential part of making sure you are contributing to the scholarly conversation in an honest, responsible way.

Understanding Academic Integrity at Illinois

To learn more about Academic Integrity policies and expectations at the University of Illinois consult the Student Code (linked below). You can also check out the Quick Reference Guide from the Office of the Provost to learn about the process and procedures for handling accusations of academic dishonesty.

Resources for Identifying Plagiarism

If you are still concerned that you don't fully understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, check out the resources below to read more and test your knowledge.

Remember that if you have a specific question about your own work, you can always reach out to your instructor, a librarian, or the Writers Workshop for clarification.