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.GSTR 110: Writing Seminar I: Critical Thinking

Topic guides and basic resources to assist with your GSTR110 seminar.

Why Should You Cite?

KYVL, the Kentucky Virtual Library, offers this advice regarding citing sources:

Any words, ideas or images that you do not create yourself must be properly credited if you use them in your work. Why? Because you are using someone else's intellectual property.

Citing your information sources acknowledges the origin of your information, and it lends credibility to your work by showing evidence of your research. It demonstrates the authenticity of your information and enables your readers to locate your information sources, should they want to. This includes all types of information sources that you may use, including:

  • Books
  • Articles (from print sources or from online article databases)
  • Interviews
  • E-mail or any other correspondence
  • Web pages
  • Government documents
  • Non-print media (videotapes, audiotapes, pictures and images)
  • Software or any digital formats
  • Graphs and charts

Whenever you use someone else's intellectual or creative "property," you need to provide a proper citation for your source, in order (1) to give credit to the author or creator and (2) to enable your reader to locate the sources you cite.

A citation is a reference to the source of an idea, information or image. A citation typically includes enough identifying information, such as the author, title, and publication format, for a reader to be able to access the original source.

The ability to interpret citations is a fundamental research skill!

Works Cited:

"Why Cite Information Sources?." How To Do Research. KYVL, 2 July 2004. Web. 5 Aug. 2014. <>.

What is Common Knowledge?

Information that is common knowledge does NOT need to be cited.

So, what is common knowledge?

According to the University of Cambridge, as a general rule, a fact can be said to be 'common knowledge' when:

  • it is widely accessible - you may not know the total population of China, but you would be able to find the answer easily from numerous sources.
  • it is likely to be known by a lot of people
  • it can be found in a general reference resource, such as a dictionary or encyclopedia.

Examples include things like: there are 12 months in a year, or that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was a dinosaur.


for more information, visit:

What is Plagiarism?

According to the University of Southern Mississippi:

"Plagiarism is the act of taking another person's writing, conversation, song, or even idea and passing it off as your own.

This includes information from web pages, books, songs, television shows, email messages, interviews, articles, artworks or any other medium.

Whenever you paraphrase, summarize, or take words, phrases, or sentences from another person's work, it is necessary to indicate the source of the information within your paper using an internal citation.

It is not enough to just list the source in a bibliography at the end of your paper!

Failing to properly quote, cite or acknowledge someone else's words or ideas with an internal citation is plagiarism!


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What is Paraphrasing?

According to

"A paraphrase is a restatement in your own words of someone else’s  ideas.

Changing a few words of the original sentences does NOT make your writing a legitimate paraphrase.  

You must change both the words and the sentence structure of the original, without changing the content.  

Also, you should keep in mind that paraphrased passages still require citation because the ideas came from another source, even though you are putting them in your own words.    

The purpose of paraphrasing is not to make it seem like you are drawing less directly from other sources or to reduce the number of quotations in your paper.  It is a common misconception among students that you need to hide the fact that you rely on other sources.  Actually it is advantageous to highlight the fact that other sources support your own ideas.  Using quality sources to support your ideas makes them seem stronger and more valid.  Good paraphrasing makes the ideas of the original source fit smoothly into your paper, emphasizing the most relevant points and leaving out unrelated information."


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Do-it-Yourself Citations