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MUL 1110 (Territo) - Music Literature: MLA Documentation & Plagiarism

Tips For Citing

The following guidelines are useful when deciding what information you should cite.

  • Your speech or essay should contain no more than 25% of quoted material.  Your audience or readers will refer to your Works Cited if they want to read all the original material in your sources.
  • Information that is common knowledge does not need to be cited. For example, George Washington was the first President of the United States or O is the chemical symbol for Oxygen.  Note, information in Wikpedia is not neccesarily common knowledge.
  • If you have questions, or are unsure if something might be common knowledge then it is best to cite your source.

Plagiarism Defined

Plagiarism is a term derived from the Latin word plagiarius (kidnapper).  Webster's dictionary defines to plagiarize as: "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source."

Plagiarism has existed throughout history.  Shakespeare, Coledridge, Martin Luther King Jr., Joe Biden and others have been convincingly acccused of plagiarism in their careers.  In the digital world we live in today, the lines between plagiarism and legitimate research often become blurred and easily confused.

Citing Sources

The easiest way to avoid plagiarism in a speech or research paper is to cite the source of your information.  In Professor O'Brien's composition class you are required to use MLA Style, Version 7.  The following rules will explain when to cite:

Direct Quotations: When you use another author's exact words, they must be quoted and cited.

Ex1: As Leonard stated , “Most of Hawthrones's works focused on New England and were influenced by his Puritan background” (1811).

Paraphrasing or Summarizing:  Summarizing or putting another speaker's thoughts or ideas into your own words still must be cited, giving credit to the original source.

Ex.2: Harris contends that despite widespread conjecture, Poe's death remains a mystery (594).

Stating Statistics or Making Claims: Statistics should always be cited and making claims that could be challenged or questioned should be cited.

Ex. 3: Psychoanalytic literary criticism is clearly less relevant than Feminist literary criticism (Bishop 2009).

  • It is useful to read your source, close it, and then write out your ideas in your own words without consulting the source.  Later, consult your source and if what you have written too closely resembles the source then cite the source and page number(s).