University Writing Center



Avoiding Plagiarism

Step 1: Gathering Source Materials

Of course you know that treating your sources fairly means being careful to accurately quote, paraphrase, or summarize the sources that you use.  But avoiding plagiarism actually begins before you ever write a word in your paper-- by carefully tracking the reference information of your sources during the research process.  While this may seem like a lot to keep track of during the early research stages, carefully taking note of this information will save you time and energy later.  (No running to the library the day before a paper is due because you've realized that you're missing a citation and you have no idea which of your sources it belongs to!)  It will also let you sleep easy, knowing that you've taken the first steps to avoiding plagiarism.

When using a source, be sure to record:

                    Publication date                       
                    Page numbers        
       City of Publication                   
                    Full title of the story/poem/article/chapter
                    Full title of the book/anthology/website/journal/magazine/newspaper

                Page numbers of the material you're working with

                     Line numbers (for poetry/drama)

For Web sources, you'll also want to take note of:

                Sponsoring organization or online publisher
                      Title of database
                      Date you accessed the page
(*Note: New updates to MLA style no longer require a URL in the Works Cited entry.  But many instructors still prefer that you include one; ask your instructor about his or her preferences.  Recording the URL is still helpful, even if it's only for your own ability to find your source later.)