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MESA Teachers' Research Guide

Engineering Librarian & CAPLA Liaison

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Paula C Johnson
Main Library A403

Citation Practices

graphic for avoiding plagiarism

Paraphrasing is restating a passage from a source in your own words.

Being able to recognize the differences between acceptable and unacceptable paraphrasing will help you avoid unintentional plagiarism.

Be sure to:

  • not just rearrange or replace a few words.
  • read over what you want to paraphrase carefully. You could cover up the text with your hand or close the text so you can't see any of it. Then, write out the idea in your own words without peeking.
  • compare your paraphrase to the original text to be sure you haven't accidentally used the same phrases or words and confirm that the information is accurate.

To learn more, see: Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It by the Writing Tutorial Services at Indiana University.

Attribution matters!

Watch this video from Florida State University that illustrates plagiarism (3:33)

It reviews summaries, paraphrasing, and quotations and when to use each one.

Write and Cite

Common citation guides for for humanities and other disciplines:

American Psychological Association guide (used in the social sciences, and sometimes academic papers regardless of subject)

Chicago guide (used mostly in history, fine arts and some social sciences)

Modern Language Association guide (used in the humanities)

These disciplines require specific citation guides:




Government Documents


Citation Management Software


Mendeley is a web-based, free-to-everyone (up to 2 GB of online storage) citation management tool supported by Mac, Windows, and Linux. It is also available as a mobile app. For more information, visit the Mendeley website.


Zotero is a free citation management application (supported by Mac, Windows, and Linux). For more information, visit the Zotero website.


The University of Wisconsin-Madison has produced a very nice comparison chart of the popular citation management systems. For a very thorough comparison of many free and paid systems, check out Wikipedia.