The point of researching something is to find information for personal knowledge or for use in an assignment. Personal research is easy, no citation required just knowledge gained. For adademic research you must be aware of how you use the information you find. You know you have to cite, or give credit for, any phrase or quotes copied verbatim from a source. However, you must also be careful to give credit when using a person's ideas. Even if you paraphrase information, put it in your own words, you must cite where it came from. Some tips to help avoid plagiarism are:

  • If you paraphrase an idea make sure you are conveying the thought in your own words. Don’t just change a few words and call it your own. To help avoid this, when taking notes just write down main ideas or words not full passages. It doesn't hurt to compare your work to the original as well to avoid using the same wording. Remember to cite your paraphrased ideas.
  • When using a direct quote from a source put quotation marks around the phrase, even while taking notes. That way you are more likely to cite it properly when writing your paper.

Not every piece of data needs to be cited. Information that is considered common knowledge, facts likely to be known by many people, does not require citation. For example, that the first shots of the Civil War were fired in April 1861 does not need to be cited because it is common knowledge. For more clarification on plagiarism and examples of how to paraphrase correctly, review the webpage below, presented by Indiana University.