Miami University defines plagiarism as: “quoting or closely paraphrasing the writings of others while leading the reader to believe that you are the author of the text.” This can happen intentionally by deliberately representing someone else’s ideas as your own. It can also happen unintentionally by copying the exact words out of a source in order to mimic the grammar and sentence structure, or by forgetting to cite the original author when you paraphrase their words or ideas. Whether it is intentional or not, getting caught plagiarizing has very serious consequences. Please use the resources on this page to get more familiar with citing resources and avoiding plagiarism.

Academic Integrity

Miami University students are expected to practice Academic Integrity, whether taking a test, turning in an assignment, or writing a research paper. Some examples of violating Academic Integrity include:

  • Submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely one’s own work without accurate and appropriate citations and attribution (including appropriate use of quotation marks);
  • Using the words, ideas, or structure/sequence of another person or source without accurate and appropriate citation and attribution (including the appropriate use of quotation marks);
  • Completing or participating in the completion of any portion of an academic assignment for another student to submit as his or her own work, including taking a quiz or an examination for another student;
  • Submitting the identical or substantially the same assignment to fulfill the requirements for two or more courses without the approval of the instructors involved or submitting the identical or substantially the same assignment from a previously completed course to fulfill requirements for another course without the approval of the instructor of the latter course;
  • Violating the procedures described to maintain the integrity of an academic assignment.

The text above is taken from the Academic Integrity policy in the “Academic Regulations” section of the Miami University Undergraduate Student Policies. For more details and information, please read the entire policy.

Why Cite Resources

Whenever you give credit to another person or organization for their words, ideas, or work, you are citing where you obtained their information. Whether you read their opinion in a newspaper article, heard them make a comment in a movie, obtained their viewpoint via an interview, or even used a photograph that they took–you need to let your reader know how you got that information. This does several things:

  1. Gives credit where credit is due and helps you avoid plagiarism.
  2. Helps your readers find the original source if they want more information or need clarification.
  3. Establishes your own credibility by letting your readers evaluate the credibility of the resources you’ve used.

Types of Citations

Citations may be in-text, footnotes, or endnotes, depending on what citation style your professor requires. There are different citation styles for different disciplines; the most commonly used are MLA, APA, and Chicago Style, but there are hundreds of other styles. All styles require the same basic elements (i.e. Author, Title, Date, etc.), but they will be in a different order and have different formatting requirements (like double spacing, italics, etc.). If your professor gives you examples of citations, be sure to follow his/her requirements.

You can find online examples of different citation styles on our Citing Your Sources page. Many resources, like our library catalog and some databases, also come with built-in citation generators. While these are fantastic tools, they are not always 100% accurate, so you will need to double-check them for accuracy and make corrections before submitting your research paper. Before turning your paper in, you should check:

  1. Did you use the citation style your professor required?
  2. Is your paper formatted with the correct spacing and margins?
  3. Did you double-check EVERY citation for accuracy?

When to Cite

Direct Quote

Whenever you copy an exact sentence or phrase from another source and use it in your own paper, you are copying a direct quote and need to put it in quotation marks and cite where you got the information. If you are quoting several sentences, you will use a block quote and do not need to use quotation marks. In college research papers, you should only be using direct quotes when the original author says it better than you could ever paraphrase. See Purdue’s The Owl website for more examples in MLA format or APA format.

Examples of Direct Quote (MLA, in-text)
In-text citations give both the author’s name AND the page number where the information was found. The reader should be able to find the complete citation information in your Works Cited (also called References or Bibliography) page.

  • “Other musicians who played in his bands are astonishingly unanimous that Miles’s presence was so strong that it alone was sufficient to release powers and abilities no one, least of all themselves, ever thought they had” (Berendt and Huesmann 134).
  • According to Berendt and Huesmann: “other musicians who played in his bands are astonishingly unanimous that Miles’s presence was so strong that it alone was sufficient to release powers and abilities no one, least of all themselves, ever thought they had” (134).

Example of Direct Quote (MLA, footnote/endnote)
When using footnotes or endnotes, you will number each quotation in the order that they appear in your research paper. You will then match that number with the corresponding citation information. The citation number helps point the reader to the source from which the quote comes.

  • “Other musicians who played in his bands are astonishingly unanimous that Miles’s presence was so strong that it alone was sufficient to release powers and abilities no one, least of all themselves, ever thought they had” 1.
    1Berendt, Joachim-Ernst and Gunther Huesmann. The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to the 21st Century. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2009. Print.



Whenever you take somebody else’s words and put them into your own, you are paraphrasing and still need to cite the original source. Most of your citations will probably come from paraphrasing and it’s important that you remember that you are still plagiarizing even if you use your own words, if you do not include a citation. Below is an example of paraphrasing the same line that is used in the Direct Quote example above.

Example of Paraphrasing (MLA, in-text)

  • According to Berendt and Huesmann, musicians who played in Miles Davis’ bands all agreed that just having Davis there brought out the best of their own abilities (134).


Using Statistical or Research Data

Whenever you use statistics or research data in your research paper, you need to cite the original source AND the source in which you found the information. This includes figures that you obtain from graphs, charts, and illustrations.

When NOT to Cite

Common Knowledge

You do not have to provide citations for information that is considered “common knowledge.”


  • George Washington was the first president of the United States.
  • John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963.

Additional Resources