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Research Tips: Citing

Basic tips for getting started with research: refining a topic, finding information, additional help.

Citation Guides

BCIT Citation Guides

BCIT has guides for several different citation styles, and links for additional help with citations.


This digital story is intended to help students understand plagiarism, a form of copyright violation. Students are encouraged to discuss the topic with their instructors to gain a clear understanding

Citation Management

Zotero, Mendeley and Endnote Basic are three of the most popular software programs used to manage citations while writing and researching. They all allow you to import citations from databases, can store PDFs, and can integrate with word processing software to create bibliographies.

If you are interested in using citation management software, this guide from Penn State University provides a useful comparison of these three options.

Remember that you are ultimately responsible for the work you submit, and while citation managers can save a lot of time, they do make mistakes and they won't do all the work for you. Always proofread your bibliographies to make sure that all the right pieces of information have ended up in the right places.

When to cite?

To avoid plagiarism, it is essential to include a citation in your work whenever you are including someone else's ideas.

Most commonly, this includes:

  • A direct quotation from another source
  • Paraphrasing a statement or idea from another source
  • Statistics, graphs or drawings from another source
  • Information taken from books, websites, journal articles, or anywhere else
  • Copying and pasting from another source

While this sounds straightforward, there are many situations that can be confusing or seem like grey areas, such as including a graph that you've created yourself with data taken from another source (answer: cite the source of the data!). If you're ever uncertain about whether to cite, look at what you've written and ask:

  • According to whom? - if it's not you, cite the source!
  • How do I know this is true? - if you're not sure how you know, you might need to include more evidence
  • Based on what evidence?  - cite any evidence you are using that isn't based on your own data collection

This is a matter of training your mind and creating habits so that citing becomes second nature. The main exception to the above is when stating something that is common knowledge, such as Vancouver gets a lot of rain in the winter. For more information on plagiarism as well as common knowldge, see the BCIT Student Guide to Plagiarism (PDF).