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Improve Your Research Skills
Key concepts
Selecting keywords
Choose the right keywords for different research questions.
How to search effectively
Use phrases and combine keywords into search strings to find what you’re looking for.
Popular vs. scholarly resources
Analyze articles to learn the differences between popular and scholarly sources.
Using databases
Searching Academic Search Ultimate
Learn how to search Academic Search Ultimate for scholarly and popular articles across disciplines.
Searching news content in Nexis Uni
Practice finding news items in Nexis Uni, including keyword searching, evaluation of results, and advanced search features.
Searching JSTOR
Learn how to find and evaluate articles using JSTOR.
Searching Web of Science
Learn how to find articles and analyze citation data in Web of Science.

How to Cite

You need to cite sources in your papers to avoid plagiarism and allow readers to track down the source content. But how should you format the citations and bibliography?

There are several citation styles to choose from, and some are for specific subjects or publications. Check with your instructor or publisher for the preferred style.

Use the guides below to see citation rules and examples. Or collect your references in one of our citation management tools that formats citations for you. 

General citation guides

American Psychological Association guide (used in the social sciences) OWL APA guide (Purdue University) APA quick citation guide (Penn State University)  
Chicago guide (used in history and some social sciences) OWL Chicago guide (Purdue University) Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (requires NetID/password) Chicago Manual of Style Online, 17th ed. (requires NetID/password)
Modern Language Association guide (used in the humanities) OWL MLA guide (Purdue University)    

Avoid Plagiarism

In college courses, you're continually engaged with other people's ideas. You might read them in texts, hear them in lectures, discuss them in class, and incorporate them into your own writing. It's important that you give credit where credit is due.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using other people's ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. It can be intentional, but you might do it without even realizing it.

There can be serious consequences for plagiarizing, from getting a zero on a paper to a full-blown lawsuit. But, don't worry! We'll help you learn what needs to be cited and how to avoid plagiarism.

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you:

  • use another person's idea, opinion, or thought.
  • use any information that isn't common knowledge.
  • quote or paraphrase another person's actual spoken or written words.


Quoting is copying the exact words from a source. This is fine as long as you place quotations around the passage you're quoting and properly cite the source.

Be sure to:

  • put quotation marks around everything that comes directly from the text, especially when taking notes.
  • cite the source.


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.


Whether you're paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting, you need to cite your sources whenever you use any research, words, or ideas that aren't your own. The only things you don't need to cite are information that's considered common knowledge and your own original research, words, or ideas.

Also, make a bibliography at the end of your paper that lists all the sources you used.

That's it!

More help

Think Tank Writing Center
Go to the Writing Center at the Think Tank to get help with your papers and writing.

Writing Skills Improvement Program
Register for this program to schedule tutoring sessions and improve your writing skills.

University of Arizona Libraries Avoiding Plagiarism
More examples and resources are available through the UA Libraries website