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Course & Subject Guides

Information for International Students

This guide provides information about using the library at Pitt, including help with researching, writing, and citing.

What is Copyright law?

  • "Copyright is a law. The Copyright Act of 1976 (as amended) -- also know as Title 17 of the U.S. Code -- grants to authors and creators of their works exclusive rights for using those works for a limited period of time. These protective rights are intended to encourage authors to create new works." (Copyright Basics, University Library System, 2021:

To understand why plagiarism is such a serious offense in the U.S., it is helpful to be aware of copyright laws. These laws protect a creative work or idea (that has been recorded in some way, such as published in a book) as the intellectual property of its author. So, by using these ideas without giving the author credit, it is equal to stealing. You can read more about copyright on the library's website:

Citing Sources Using a Citation Manager

Keep track of all of your citations and easily create bibliographies. Pitt's library resources work with tools such as Mendeley, EndNote, and Zotero and allow you to import citations from sources like PittCat and article databases. 

What is Plagiarism?

English Chinese Korean Japanese French Spanish Italian Arabic
Plagiarism 抄袭 표절 盗作 plagiat plagio plagio

الأدب ية ال سرق ة


"Plagiarism, specifically, is a term used to describe a practice that involves knowingly taking and using another person’s work and claiming it, directly or indirectly, as your own." (Neville, 2007, p. 28)

In the United States, plagiarism is taken very seriously, both legally and ethically. It can lead to disciplinary action such as expulsion from the University. Additionally, plagiarizing will damage your reputation and credibility as a scholar in Western academia. Plagiarism can be intentional (purchasing a research paper online or sharing a test with a friend) or unintentional (improperly citing a source in a paper or using an author's words without giving her/him credit). This below list, from, identifies some specific forms of plagiarism:
  • "turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not" (What Is Plagiarism?)
It might seem like using the ideas of others is a problem. However, this is not the case. Scholarship is a conversation; that is, you will be expected to read, analyze, and respond to the ideas of others when writing your papers. The key to doing this without plagiarizing is to cite your sources


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 <>

Pitt's Plagiarism Policy

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. Without limiting the application of this principle, a student may be found to have violated this obligation if he or she: [10] Presents as one's own, for academic evaluation, the ideas, representations, or words of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources." (University of Pittsburgh, 2009, p. 6)

University of Pittsburgh. (2009). Guidelines on Academic Integrity. "Academic Integrity: Student Obligations". Web accessed June 11, 2015.

What Are Citations?

What is a citation and citation style?

A citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It can also be used to locate particular sources and combat plagiarism. Typically, a citation can include the author's name, date, location of the publishing company, journal title, or DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

English Chinese Korean Japanese French Spanish Italian Arabic
Citation 引文 인용문헌/참고문헌 参照 citation cita bibliográfica / referencia citazione مرجع


How to do I choose a citation style?

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
  • IEEE Style is often used in Engineering

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

Citation Styles

The 9th edition of the MLA Handbook was published in 2021. In this update, the format for both in-text and Works Cited citations is the same as the 8th edition. The 9th edition also includes this clarification on citing a film/DVD.

A film/DVD:
Generally list film directors as key contributors in the Contributor element
Blade Runner. 1982. Directed by Ridley Scott, director’s cut, Warner Bros., 1992.