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Can you Plagiarize a Citation or References: Tips with Examples

Can You Plagiarize a Citation

While dealing with academic writing, you will cite your sources to prove that you did proper research. We use citations to inform the audience where you got your details from.

When you are citing, it includes giving the authors’ names and the publication date. But does that mean you are plagiarizing? That is what we want to address in this segment. 

Can You Plagiarize a Citation?

Plagiarism involves taking people’s ideas, words and present them as your own. However, if you fail to cite properly, then it would mean you are stealing someone’s work. 

You can plagiarize a citation or a reference if you copy the text word-for-word and represent the argument made as yours.

Even if you cite or place a reference on the text, you will still have copied if that writing is not your original argument. However, it is not plagiarism if you cite a source that is cited by someone else.

Lack of proper citation implies that all the information in the paper belongs to you. If you failed to cite correctly or completely, then the instructor will assume you plagiarized the work. A lenient instructor may treat such situations as challenges of assignments and not a disciplinary action. 

When citing, ensure that you put the borrowed ideas in quotation marks. As such, Turnitin is going to exclude all the information that you put in quotes. The design will help you to escape the plagiarism challenge and remain on the safe side. 

Can you Plagiarize References and Footnotes?

Footnotes happen to be the notes that you place at the bottom of the page.

Footnote example

We use them to cite references or place a comment on a marked part of the text above it. 

When you come across the footnote, it is vital to check the related comment at the bottom page. 

Notably, we always exclude references from any automated plagiarism checks since they can indicate a high similarity percentage.

While dealing with references, there is no acceptable standard of similarity that one can consider plagiarism.

It will only raise the alarm if the similarity percentage exceeds 50%.

How to Cite Well and Avoid Plagiarism

Institutions consider plagiarism as a punishable offense. If you are unsure about what to do, consult your instructor to assist you in meeting the citation standards. The instructor should have an understanding of the issue that you are struggling with. 

Here are tips that students should use when citing to overcome plagiarism:  

1. Start Early

One can avoid unintentional plagiarism by starting early. You will gather more facts when you reach out to several sources and gather all facts concerning your work. Furthermore, you should take accurate notes for your research.  

2. Complete the Citation

The writer should craft a full citation for every item you are likely to use. For example, if you make journal articles, book chapters, or other related materials, then put the right details. 

Citation example

Such information includes the author, title, date, subtitle, and other basic information on the photocopy.

You should ensure that you adhere to the rules of the citation style you might be using. 

If the author doubts the information that he is writing about, then it is necessary to cite it.

Follow the given style, whether it is APA or MLA, to credit your sources properly. 

If you are using someone’s original content or ideas, it is vital to acknowledge that within the paper’s body thanks to in-text citation. Also, you can do so on the reference page. 

3. Alphabet-Number System

When you are citing the source of your information, it is vital to give the number in the parenthesis. The number should correspond to the alphabetical listings in the references.  

4. Place the Brackets Well

Such a style is usually reserve in engineering courses. You should place the number in the brackets to correspond with the listed sources as they appear in the report sequentially.  

Citations tend to prevent plagiarism because they help in giving credit to the author. This is one of the methods we recommended that you can copy and paste without plagiarizing the source or the text.

5. Seek Writing and Citing Help 

Suppose you fail to understand the entire assignment, then it is key to ask for help. Many resourceful services exist to assist you over that area of difficulty. 

You can get a recommendation from a colleague who understands the competence of the selected writing service to do a commendable job for you. The correct site will showcase its past sample to see if it can handle any task for you. 

Does Turnitin Count References

Turnitin will count anything in your submitted work. Suppose you use references; it will also count them but interpret anything in the quotation as unoriginal.

Turnitin will count references and citations if they are uploaded as part of the document to be checked for plagiarism. However, this happens if the settings by the faculty are set to include the bibliography page. To avoid Turnitin checking or scanning the references page, that setting should be set to exclude the bibliography.


If the instruction demands that you include references, ensure that the references are in the same document you are submitting. 

References are an important part of your work since they indicate the source of your information.

You will be informing the author that you are not the original owner of the quoted section.

That will be enough to escape the plagiarism trap. 

How to Exclude References in Turnitin

One can opt to exclude references for the originality report. For one to achieve that, let the file format follow a particular way. For one to succeed in excluding references, select the “Advanced Settings Options” on the Turnitin screen. 

Typically, by default, all options normally take the “NO”, and you cannot alter them when students are making assignments submissions. 

For one to exclude quoted materials, then go for the “YES” option. That means that Turnitin is going to ignore any text that is within double quotation marks. Also, it will ignore any indented text.