Ms. Gokturk

Guidelines for the Research Paper

From: “A Statement on Plagiarism”

MLA Citation Rules and Parenthetical Documentation


PLAGIARISM! Using someone else's ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as our own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense known as plagiarism. "Ideas or phrasing" includes written or spoken material, of course — from whole papers and paragraphs to sentences, and, indeed, phrases — but it also includes statistics, lab results, art work, etc. "Someone else" can mean a professional source, such as a published writer or critic in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or journal; an electronic resource such as material we discover on the World Wide Web; another student at our school or anywhere else; a paper-writing "service" (online or otherwise) which offers to sell written papers for a fee.

Let us suppose, for example, that we're doing a paper for Music Appreciation on the child prodigy years of the composer and pianist Franz Liszt and that we've read about the development of the young artist in several sources. In Alan Walker's book Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years (Ithaca: 1983), we read that Liszt's father encouraged him, at age six, to play the piano from memory, to sight-read music and, above all, to improvise. We can report in our paper (and in our own words) that Liszt was probably the most gifted of the child prodigies making their mark in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century — because that is the kind of information we could have gotten from a number of sources; it has become what we call common knowledge.

However, if we report on the boy's father's role in the prodigy's development, we should give proper credit to Alan Walker. We could write, for instance, the following: Franz Liszt's father encouraged him, as early as age six, to practice skills which later served him as an internationally recognized prodigy (Walker 59). Or, we could write something like this: Alan Walker notes that, under the tutelage of his father, Franz Liszt began work in earnest on his piano playing at the age of six (59). Not to give Walker credit for this important information is plagiarism.


You must quote your sources AS WELL AS CITE PARANTHETICALLY.

Quotations that constitute fewer than five lines in your paper should be set off with quotation marks [ “ ” ] and be incorporated within the normal flow of your text. For material exceeding that length, omit the quotation marks and indent the quoted language one inch from your left-hand margin. If an indented quotation is taken entirely from one paragraph, the first line should be even with all the other lines in that quotation; however, if an indented quotation comes from two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph an additional one-quarter inch.

If quotation marks appear within the text of a quotation that already has the usual double-quote marks [ “ ” ] around it (a quote-within-a-quote), set off that inner quotation with single-quote marks [ ‘ ’ ] . Such a quote-within-a-quote within an indented quotation is marked with double-quote marks.

In the United States, the usual practice is to place periods and commas inside quotation marks, regardless of logic. Other punctuation marks — question marks, exclamation marks, semicolons, and colons — go where logic would dictate. Thus, we might see the following sentences in a paper about Robert Frost:

The first two lines of this stanza, "My little horse must think it queer / To stop without a farmhouse near," remind us of a nursery rhyme.

(Note, also, the slash mark / (with a space on either side) to denote the poem's line-break.) But observe the placement of this semicolon:

There is a hint of the nursery rhyme in the line "My little horse must think it queer"; however, the poem then quickly turns darkly serious.

Pay close attention to the placement of commas and periods in the use of citations.


Documentation will take two forms in your final paper:

·         In the Works Cited section, where all the sources you've used should be listed alphabetically, and

·         Within the text of your paper, where parentheses should show your readers where you found each piece of information that you have used. These textual citations allow the reader to refer to your Works Cited page(s) for further information.

IN THE BODY of your paper: Parenthetical Documentation

  • MLA recommends parenthetical documentation instead of footnoting. Parenthetical documentation is a brief reference in the paper directly after the sentence or paragraph in which you quote from the book or use its ideas. (Author 27) referring to page 27 of a book listed in the Works Cited takes the place of a footnote. (Author 27) guides the reader of the paper to the full entry for that author in the Works Cited. If the Works Cited lists a work by title, use a shortened form of the title and page number. Examples follow.
  • When the author is mentioned in the sentence only put the page number in the parentheses. Place the period after the parentheses, not within the quotation marks. For example: Carter Hardy believes that the "increased intake of sugar cereals among teachers has significantly raised classroom narcolepsy" (106).
  • When the author is not mentioned by name, put both the author's last name and the page number in the parentheses. Do not put a comma in between them. For example: "Increased intake of sugar cereals among teachers has significantly raised classroom narcolepsy" (Hardy 106).
  • When there is no author, use the first word (or first few words) of the title of the book or article (article title words in quotations). Many people lament the loss of quality television time to the imposition of family interaction ("America" 33).
  • When there are multiple authors: Two authors: "If you think about it, the human species produces more tin foil than plastic wrap" (Clinton and Bush 90). Three authors: (Clinton, Bush, and Reagan 99). More than three authors: (Clinton et al. 104.)
  • Same information in two or more works: List both works in the  parenthetical citation exactly as they would be listed individually, but separate them with a semicolon. Example: Pundits agree that globalization will impact the future of all businesses as national borders are breached and trade barriers are broken down, and both eventually disappear (Friedman 42; Czinkota, Ronkainen and Tarrant 1).
  • When using a quote that was already a quote in your sources: Lou Reed told us to "Take a walk on the wild side" (qtd. In Roller). In this situation, the quote by Lou Reed was found by the student as a quote in a book by Roller.
  • If your information is from a full-text article from a database or the Internet, there may be no page number. If so, use (Author n.pag.) to show that no pagination was available.

Hattiesburg, MS. 5 August 1999. <>.