Crediting or citing sources in your writing

code | scenario | smart strategies | consequences

Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters

1. It shall be an offence for a student knowingly:

(d) to represent as one’s own an idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;

Wherever in the Code an offence is described as depending on “knowing”, the offence shall likewise be deemed to have been committed if the person ought reasonably to have known.

Scenario – Crediting or citing sources

Your instructor has just informed you that the essay you submitted in your first year Anthropology course contained many passages taken word for word (verbatim) or nearly verbatim from an online source without proper acknowledgement of the original author or any citation to that source.

When you go up to the instructor to ask why this was a problem, they explain that by failing to credit, reference, or ‘cite’ the author who originally wrote the words you used, you had represented that author’s writing as your own; this constitutes ‘plagiarism.’  You remember the instructor going over this on the first day of class, and now realize how important this issue is at the university-level.

The Issue

Citation of sources used in your work is taken very seriously at university.  One of the core premises of academic writing is to give credit to the original author of each of your sources that you refer to in your writing.

You will most likely receive a sanction for committing the academic offence of plagiarism, which means passing off someone else’s words or writing as your own, without referencing that original author.

Smart Strategies

  • If you are unsure how to properly cite material in an essay, approach your instructor or a TA in your course for help, or a librarian at U of T.
  • Citations, quoting and paraphrasing; Taking notes; Information literacy and academic integrity.
  • Colour-coding each source you use and immediately documenting the page number helps you to organize your sources and create an accurate list of references and bibliography.
  • Consult your course syllabus. Many instructors have details on plagiarism and what citation styles they expect from you in their course.
  • Consult the helpful document ‘How not to Plagiarize’ for more detail on avoiding plagiarism (U of T Writing Centres) and the ‘Why Cite’ Library guide (U of T Libraries).

Range of Consequences

For a discussion of consequences see Key Consequences.