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Library Research Skills for GSPIA and International Students

This guide is designed to orient GSPIA students on library research skills for academic success at a graduate level. The information presented in this guide will be especially useful to GSPIA's international students.

Avoiding Plagiarism Slides

Academic Integrity

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines plagiarize as:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
  • to commit literary theft

The University's Academic Integrity Policy notes that plagiarism is "presenting as your own . . the ideas, representations, or words of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources."  This includes both the unintentional misrepresentation that may occur when you don’t cite a source, as well as intentional misrepresentation.

Citing the sources of your information is a way of giving credit to the original information creators for the creative and intellectual work that you used to support your research, and helps you avoid plagiarism.  

Each of the academic units of the University of Pittsburgh expect students to follow a similar code of academic integrity recommended by the Provost's office.

"A student has an obligation to exhibit honesty and to respect the ethical standards of the academy in carrying out his or her academic assignments." 

This is considered violated if the student "(p)resents as one's own, for academic evaluation, the ideas, representations, or words of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources."

Provost's Guidelines on Academic Integrity

Take good notes

  • While researching, be sure to take note of important quotes and passages that you think you might use in your paper.
  • Note the citation information--the author, title, and page number, so that you can easily cite it in your paper.
  • Develop a system of note-taking that works for you.

Cite correctly

  • "Any time you use words from another source, such as a Web site, book, journal article, or even a friend's English paper, you must give proper credt to the source.
  • Even if you don't use someone else's words, but you refer to an idea of concept from another source, you must also give credit.
  • 'Citing your sources' means giving all of the information about your source, such as author, title, and date of publication, so someone else can find that source again." (Penn State, 2012)

Use quotes effectively

  • "If you use someone else's exact words, you need to put those words in quotation marks. Changing a few words here and there is not enough to avoid plagiarism. Either put the exact phrase you are quoting in quotation marks, or rewrite it entirely in your own words.
  • Quoting extensively from another source, even if you do it properly, is not appropriate for a research paper. Use quotations to support your arguments or clarify important points, but create your own argument using your own words." (Penn State, 2012)

Paraphrase correctly

  • "In a paraphrase, you rewrite what someone else has said in your own way. Just as you have a personality that is different from everyone else's, you as a writer have your own voice and style. When you write, even when you are paraphrasing, your writing should sound like it came from you, not from someone else." (Penn State, 2012)
Neville, C. (2007). The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. New York; Maidenhead: Open University Press. 
Penn State. (2012). Plagiarism & You. Online document. Retrieved June 10, 2015, from <>
What Is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved June 10, 2015, from <>

When to Cite?

  1. Direct quote: when you use the exact words /sentences from a source
  2. Indirect quote:
  •  Paraphrase: restate another person’s ideas or thoughts in your own words, and in your own structure.
  •  Summary: a concise statement of another person’s thoughts or ideas in your own words.

How to Cite?

  1. Understand different citation styles : Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, IEEE

There are different styles which format the information differently. In this guide you will find descriptions of these citation styles along with links to online resources for citing and a few examples.

        2. Choose a citation style to suit your needs.

There are many different ways of citing resources from your research. The citation style sometimes depends on the academic discipline involved. For example:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used by the Humanities
  • Chicago/Turabian style is generally used by Business, History, and the Fine Arts

You will need to consult with your professor to determine what is required in your specific course.

         3. Citing Sources Using a Citation Manager

Online citation managers are an easy way to keep track of all of your references. The University Library System resources work with tools such as Mendeley and EndNote. These are tools for importing citations from sources like PITTCat+ and article databases that can automatically integrate them into your research paper and bibliography.


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