FAQs About Ethically Using Source Materials

by The Writing Center Staff

Q: Is there such thing as too many citations?

Not really. The only thing to be mindful of is that your ideas should be at the core of your writing. You want to be sure you’re using your own brain in addition to the research of others.

Q: If your intention is to paraphrase source material, at what point is it no longer ethical to do so?

Although it is acceptable to paraphrase source material, the majority of your paper should not be from an outside source. It is important for you to have your own voice throughout the paper as well and allow that part to dominate.

In general, as long as you’re paraphrasing correctly, it is always ethical.

Q: How do you know if you are quoting too closely?

Quoting is defined as using someone else’s exact words- so you can not quote “too closely.” Even if you’re only using one word from the original source, that one word needs to be in quotation marks.

Q: Why is paraphrasing and quoting considered plagiarism sometimes?

Paraphrasing and quoting can be considered plagiarism when they are done improperly.

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