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Library Resources and Services for International Students

This page provides a short overview of some of the ways the library can help you during your time at Brown.

Brown Academic Code

There is a code of conduct that supports Brown University's commitment to building a scholarly community. Essentially, the key concepts are:

  • Produce work independently
  • Tell the truth
  • Acknowledge the work of others (including yourself)

Read the full Brown Academic Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity.


Most cases of plagiarism are accidental. In order to prevent accidental plagiarism, you can use citation management software to help keep track of your sources while you research and write.

When you don’t provide attribution (acknowledgement or credit to previous work) you are committing plagiarism. Plagiarism can look like more than simply copying & pasting the words of another in your paper and can even be unintentional. It is your responsibility to make sure you are adhering to the Academic Code and US law as well as the preferred citation style of your instructor.

  • Intentional Plagiarism - Knowingly or purposefully taking exact ideas or text (words) from a source (a book, an article, a Reddit post, a friend’s paper) and purposefully including it in your own work without citation
  • Self-plagiarism - Once you have written something (for a class, for a research presentation) it is considered informally published. Handing that paper in for something else without citing yourself and its initial “publication” is self-plagiarism.
  • Patch Writing - When you find yourself quilting together sources—borrowing language freely from multiple sources in order to build “your own” claims and sentences, you are patch writing. You are also patch writing when you summarize or paraphrase too closely to the original language of the source. This can be intentional or unintentional.
  • Accidental Plagiarism - Even if you did not intentionally plagiarize—for example, you just forgot to go back and add in the quotation marks and parenthetical citation for that text you copied from the PDF of the article handed out in class—you are still held accountable. Even if your missing citation is a mistake, it’s still a missing citation and therefore an instance of plagiarism.

More information can be found here.

Using Citations

We can criticize, comment, report, build upon and teach using ideas of others, but we need to ensure that we are crediting the author or creator properly. This way, when other people go to use our intellectual work they can credit us as well and trace back to the intellectual works and ideas we found interesting and helpful.

According to the Council of Writing Program Administrators, an understanding as a user of information entails:

  • Assembling and analyzing a set of sources that you have determined are relevant to the issues you are investigating;
  • Acknowledging clearly when and how you are drawing on the ideas or phrasings of others;
  • Learning the conventions for citing documents and acknowledging sources appropriate to the field you are studying;
  • Consulting your instructors when you are unsure about how to acknowledge the contributions of others to your thought and writing.

What Citations Look Like

The Brown Library can support your course by leading a workshop on citation management software or citation styles. Request a workshop for your course.

A citation is: "A reference providing information about where a particular quotation, text, etc., is to be found; a bibliographical reference."

- Oxford English Dictionary Online, version March 2015

There are many different citation styles which reflect different interests and preferences of disciplines and often publications. If you are unsure which citation style to use, it is best to ask the person you are writing for, such as a professor or journal editor.

Email us at with citation questions or for help with EndNote, EndNote Online, or Zotero software.

Why Citations are Important

  1. Inform a reader that material in your work, such as a quote, image, or idea, came from another source.
  2. Acknowledge the work of others and provide pathways to their work.
  3. Provide context to your argument in a larger scholarly discussion.
  4. Establish your credibility as a serious scholar by providing evidence that you have thoroughly considered the topic.
  5. Failure to cite, or citing improperly, is considered plagiarism.

When to Cite

You need to cite your sources whenever you:

  • Quote a sentence or passage
  • Paraphrase or summarize ideas that are not your own
  • Make specific reference to the work of others
  • Utilize data or statistics
You do NOT need to cite:
  • Well-known and undisputed facts
  • Your own ideas expressed elsewhere in the same paper

What to Cite

Cite the source that you used.

In other words, cite only what you have seen.  To cite a work that you have not seen or used is dishonest and can perpetuate inaccuracies.

Ideally, you should try to view original sources because other authors may have misrepresented quotes, statistics, ideas or meaning from an original source.

Example: A 2008 article examined the accuracy of citations to a commonly referenced hand surgery study.  Of 154 articles that referenced the original study, 63 (41%) had at least one inaccurate reference to this study.  The authors concluded: "Care must be taken in referencing biomedical literature, particularly articles that have a potentially profound impact on clinical patient management."

Citation Error Example

Citation Error Example

Source: Porrino, J. A., Tan, V., & Daluiski, A. (2008). Misquotation of a commonly referenced hand surgery study. The Journal of Hand Surgery, 33(1), 2–7.

Anatomy of a Citation

You need to provide enough information for your reader to easily find your sources.  The information that you include in a citation depends somewhat on the type of source, e.g. book, book chapter, journal article, or website.

All citations include:

  • Author(s) and/or editor(s)
  • Title of the chapter or article
  • Title of the book or journal
  • Year of publication

In addition to the information above, citations for BOOKS or BOOK CHAPTERS include:

  • Place of publication
  • Publisher
  • Pages of chapter (if applicable)

In addition to the information above, citations for JOURNAL ARTICLES include:

  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Pages of article