This page highlights key resources for engaging sources in your First Year Seminar: Free Speech in the Age of Neoliberalism.
Common Citation Situations (from Barnard Library's Avoiding Plagiarism guide)
- Common Knowledge
"Common knowledge" does not need to have a citation. It refers to facts and ideas that the majority of members of a community or academic discipline can be expected to know. You can assume it’s common knowledge if it appears undocumented in five or more reliable sources.
Some examples of common knowledge that do not need to be cited:
- Emily Dickinson only published a few poems during her lifetime
- The U.S. entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor
- Maine has a lower yearly average temperature than Florida
- Carl Rogers was a psychologist whose theory of client-centered therapy had a great impact in the field of psychotherapy
- any undisputed date
If you’re not sure whether a fact is common knowledge, cite it!
Any opinion, analysis or interpretation of ideas or facts must also be cited.
More common knowledge help:
- Not-So-Common Knowledge from Princeton University
To quote another author or resource, you must use that author's exact words. This means that you need to copy the words exactly as they appear in the original, and add quotation marks at the beginning and end to indicate that the information is a direct quote. You must also provide information about the original source of the quotation and cite it in your work. In addition, it is often recommended that you introduce a quote with your own words, and that you provide explanation or analysis right after the quote.
You may decide to use a quotation if:
- The author's language is noteworthy
- You intend to analyze the passage quoted in great detail; or
- Summarizing or paraphrasing the passage would result in a misinterpretation or misrepresentation of the author's meaning or words.
More quotation help:
- Quotations and Paraphrasing from University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center
- Using Quotations from University of Toronto
Primary and Secondary Sources
What if you are reading a book or article (secondary source) which cites another (original or primary) source? Can you cite that original source without actually looking at it? For example, if an article by A includes a quote from B, is it okay to use B's book quotation in your paper and only cite B? That is, using the citation information for B's book included in A's article, but without citing A herself?
The answer is that it is considered dishonest to cite a source without actually having read it, or at least having read the relevant parts of it. The source you have in your hand may not accurately represent or reproduce the text or even the ideas presented in the original. Shouldn't you judge for yourself, anyway? If you are not able to obtain a copy of the original, primary, text to look at, you can still refer to it. In the text of your paper, refer to the original work (in the example above, this would be B), but include a citation for the secondary source, so your reader knows where and how you accessed the original work (in the example above, this would be A). Then, in your reference list, again include a citation for the secondary source, A. For an example of this, see the OWL at Purdue website ("Work Discussed in a Secondary Source").
Paraphrasing is often thought to be similar to summarizing, but rather than being simply a more concise version of a passage, paraphrasing requires you to restate all of the information from the original source and not just the main idea. Paraphrasing is more than just choosing a few synonyms and inserting them into the original sentence (this is considered plagiarism). You must also alter the syntax (the word and phrase order) of the sentence.
For example, if the original text (from Pyle, Howard. Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates: Fiction, Fact & Fancy Concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners of the Spanish Main. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921) is written:
Just above the northwestern shore of the old island of Hispaniola—the Santo Domingo of our day—and separated from it only by a narrow channel of some five or six miles in width, lies a queer little hunch of an island, known, because of a distant resemblance to that animal, as the Tortuga de Mar, or sea turtle.
Then this would be an example of plagiarism of that text:
Just above the northwestern coast of the ancient island of Hispaniola—the Santo Domingo of today—and divided from it by a thin channel of some five or six miles in width, exists a peculiar little hunch of an island, known, due to a remote likeness to that animal, as the Tortuga de Mar, or sea turtle (Pyle 3).
This is plagiarism because the writer simply plugged in some synonyms without changing the structure of the sentence.
An appropriate way to paraphrase this text might be:
Near what we call Santo Domingo today, and what was called Hispaniola centuries ago, you can find the island called Tortuga de Mar, or sea turtle. This island is only five or six miles away from the northwest coast of Santo Domingo and got its name because it looks a little bit like a sea turtle (Pyle 3).
More Paraphrasing Help:
- "How to Recognize Unacceptable and Acceptable Paraphrases" in Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It from the Indiana University Writing Tutorial Services
- Paraphrasing: Strategy from University of Texas Arlington
- Techniques for Paraphrasing from Simon Fraser University Library
Summarizing condenses a passage in a way that presents the passage's most important ideas, but omits some details. When you summarize a passage, you should:
- Restate the central idea in your own words.
- Include an in-text citation to indicate to the reader where the passage you summarized begins and ends. You can also add attributive tags (phrases that are used to introduce a quote/passage) to longer summaries. These tags can be used to show where a summary begins. Examples of attributive tags include:
- Lincoln stated...
- As Mr. Chen suggests...
- Howard Pyle tells readers that...
- Avoid including opinions or feelings about the passage within the summary. Any opinions you use in your work should be clearly distinguished from the summary of the passage so that it is clear they are your own.
One suggestion for the best method to summarize is to do the following: read the passage, and lay it aside for a while. Then come back and record your memory of the passage in your own words. Now, double-check the passage to make sure you have not remembered the author's exact words or misrepresented their ideas.
More summarizing help:
Summarizing: How to effectively summarize the work of others from Simon Fraser University Library
- Cite Source presents visual information about how to cite various sources in a visual way, and they offer guidance on citing tricky sources. Check out the source help for APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has lots of general and subject specific writing tips and techniques, along with research advice and detailed citation and formatting standards for the APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.
- Style guides for APA, Chicago, and MLA are available through the library - see the Citation Styles and Practices guide for more information.
- Barnard Library guides to citation management provides information about citation practices, style guides, and software programs you can use that help you keep track of your sources and create bibliographies.
- Zotero has easy to read documentation for getting started or more advanced questions.
- The Barnard Library Avoiding Plagiarism guide has advice on paraphrasing, summarizing, common knowledge, and other techniques. Check out the links to helpful videos and tutorials.
- The Barnard Writing Fellows Program is designed to help students strengthen their writing in all disciplines. The Writing Fellows are specially selected Barnard undergraduates who participate in a semester-long workshop in the teaching of writing and, having finished their training, staff the Erica Mann Jong '63 Writing Center and work in courses across the disciplines. They have drop-in hours during mid-terms and finals, or you can make an appointment.
- The Craft of Research is an online book that can help guide you through the full research process. In particular, see Chapter 6 - Engaging Sources.
- They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing is a book all about entering scholarly conversations, with templates to help you summarize, paraphrase, and otherwise engage with the sources you integrate and quote in your paper.
Some of the content on this page is based on a tutorial by Diane Harvey (Duke University), Kawanna Bright (NC State University), Libby Gorman (NC Central University), Kim Vassiliadis (UNC-Chapel Hill Library) and Julie Greenberg (UNC's School of Information and Library Science) with much thanks.
Last updated January 31, 2018