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HIST 2321 SO Elkins: Citing and Evaluating Sources

Citing and Evaluating Sources

Citation Tips

Forgetting to document a source is considered plagiarism!

Don't wait until you finish your paper to begin citing your sources. It is a better idea to cite your sources as you find them and use them.  Use these tips to help ensure that documenting your sources is quick and easy!

  1. When you decide to use a source, be sure to copy all the information required to develop a citation.
  2. When you add a quotation to your paper, document the page number (or the paragraph number if no page number is present) of where the quotation was found.
  3. Also, be careful if you cut and paste a quotation from one of our database articles to your paper. It is all too easy, while writing, to cut and paste a quotation without also jotting down the citation information.

The best way to make sure you do not forget to cite the sources you use - cite while you write!


The quality of your final research project is related to the quality of the sources you use. As one professor put it, "garbage in, garbage out."  Applying the CRAP Test is one way to evaluate quality and value of a source (book, article, etc.) before you start writing.

Ask yourself these questions to determine if the source is one you should use...


  • How recent is the information?
  • Can you locate a date when the resource was written/created/updated?
  • Based on your topic, is this current enough?
  • Why might the date matter for your topic?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?


  • Can you determine who the author/creator is?
  • What are their credentials (education, affiliation, experience, etc.)?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the work?
  • Is this publisher reputable?


  • What kind of information is included in the resource?
  • Is the content primarily opinion?
  • Is the information balanced or biased?
  • Does the author provide citations and references for quotations and data?

Purpose/Point of View

  • What is the intent of the article (to persuade you, to sell something, etc.)
  • For web sources: what is the domain (.edu, .com, etc.)? How might that influence the purpose/point of view?
  • Are there ads on the Web site or in the resource? How do they relate to the topic being covered (e.g., an ad for ammunition next to an article about firearm legislation)?
  • Is the author presenting fact or opinion?

Don't Do It!

At Tarrant County College, scholastic dishonesty is unacceptable and is not tolerated. Any person who is a party to scholastic dishonesty as defined below will be disciplined as prescribed in this document.

SCHOLASTIC DISHONESTY is defined as misconduct including, but not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, and collusion.

PLAGIARISM is defined as presenting as one’s own the ideas or writings of another without acknowledging or documenting the source(s).

Students are guilty of plagiarism when they do any of the following in an essay or presentation:

  • Copy a word or words directly from a book, periodical, or electronic source without using quotation marks and references to sources;
  • Summarize or paraphrase the ideas or opinions of an author or use the data collected by an author without citing the author as the source;
  • Submit papers or projects which do not reflect their own knowledge, voice, and style, usually as a result of having had another person (1) write, (2) rephrase, (3) rewrite, or (4) complete their ideas;
  • Submit a paper or project which was written or prepared by another person for another class or another instructor implying that the work is their original composition or project;
  • Submit a paper or project which was previously submitted to fulfill requirements for another course, unless (1) the professor permits students to draw from earlier papers/projects or (2) the professors of concurrent courses (i.e. Common Ground courses) permit students to submit a paper/project to fulfill requirements in both courses;
  • Download a paper or portions of text from an electronic source and (1) paste it into a paper, (2) retype the paper or portions of the paper and submit it as their own composition, (3) retype phrases or sentences with a few changes, and submit the paper as their own composition, or (4) summarize or paraphrase the ideas from one or more sentences, without citing the source.
  • Submit as their own work a paper (or parts of a paper) purchased from a company or electronic source that offers catalogs of essays on different topics and/or for different courses.

TCC Student Handbook, pg. 64-65

Plagarism Resources - good resource for understanding what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.

Turnitin Writecycle - this tool is used by TCC students to check their papers for plagiarism prior to submitting them for a grade. See your instructor for sign up instructions.

TCCD Plagiarism Tutorial - this tutorial contains a flash video detailing what plagiarism is and also includes a post test.

Help With Citing Sources