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Stony Brook University

Citation Guides

This guide can help you learn how to properly format your bibliographies and papers in AMA, APA, Chicago and MLA citation styles, and avoid plagiarism.


Laptop computer covered in post it notes. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay PLAGIARISM
DEFINITION: Plagiarism is copying something without crediting the source.

The difference between quoting and paraphrasing

When you write a paper, you read a lot of material about the topic. This helps you to examine the various aspects of a topic to understand it. By the time you have thoroughly researched what has been written, you will start to form ideas of your own, see patterns, and be able to think about the topic in your own words.

Along the way, you probably took a lot of notes, copied articles, and searched the Web looking for information. The material you find and include in your paper is what you have to list (or reference) in your bibliography.

What is quoting? To state what someone else has written, word for word, using their words.

Sometimes something you read is exactly the point you want to make, and is written so well you want to use it directly. You can do so legally by quoting. Anything you directly quote must be put in quotation marks and referenced.

What is paraphrasing? To paraphrase is to say the same thing, but in your own words.

Sometimes you like the content of a paragraph or section of something you read, and want to paraphrase, or restate it in your own words for your paper. Although it is not illegal, paraphrasing in scholarly papers must be cited as a professional courtesy. You need not use quotation marks unless the statement is word-for-word as it appears in your source, but if you paraphrase in papers required for school, you must acknowledge you are doing so with a footnote/endnote or parenthetical (see page 8 of this unit for more information on how to do these).

How do you avoid plagiarizing?

  • Give the author of the material credit by " documenting" or " citing" your sources (terms which mean you credit your source).
  • Give credit whenever you use a direct quote by placing it in quotation marks and giving the author credit.
  • Give credit whenever you paraphrase (state/write in a different way) a thought, idea, or words within the research paper and at the end of the paper in the bibliography
  • Give credit within a research paper through footnotes or parenthetical remarks.
  • Give credit at the end of a research paper in the bibliography.

-From "Plagiarism: What it is and how to avoid it"

What is Plagiarism?

Check out this video from the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers University. 

For more information (and to see the other two parts of the series) visit their website.

WARNING: This clip is very loud!  Be prepared to turn down the volume!!

SBU Policies on Plagiarism

You can learn more about the policies and procedures involving plagiarism at SBU from the Office of Academic Integrity.

SBU Academic Integrity Policy

Detecting Plagiarism

Preventing Plagiarism