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Going to the Source

A Guide to Academic Integrity and Attribution at Vassar College

Download the Going to the Source (PDF)

This guide may help you in the following and similar situations:

  • you’re new to college-level work
  • a professor asks you to assess or join a scholarly conversation and you don’t know how to do so
  • you’re consumed with anxiety that a professor will not think your work is original
  • you’re not sure how to quote or summarize a source
  • you have a paper due tomorrow but haven’t started it because you are overwhelmed with a personal crisis, so you’re tempted to cut and paste from the Internet
  • a classmate asks to borrow your problem set “just to double check my own work,” and you aren’t sure what to do
  • you’ve been called before the Academic Panel for plagiarism and don’t know what that means or what the implications are

This guide does not provide detailed instructions on citation styles in different fields. As noted in Part V, disciplinary forms vary; more information about citing sources is available online, which provides links to important handbooks and style manuals, both online and in print, as well as additional information about citation standards.

None of this can substitute for conversation with your professors. Their job is to help you learn and answer your questions. When in doubt, ASK!

— Co-authors

     Rebecca Edwards, Professor of History on the Eloise Ellery Chair
     Matt Schultz, Director, Vassar Writing Center
     Debra Bucher, Head of Research Services, Vassar College Library
     David T. Bradley, Associate Professor of Physics
     March 2016

Table of Contents

  1. Why we all have intellectual debts, and how to acknowledge them page
  2. How to approach reading, thinking, writing, and citing as integrated activities
  3. Quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing sources: a quick guide
  4. Quoting and paraphrasing: some differences in the natural and social sciences
  5. Differences in citation form by academic field
  6. Citing electronic sources
  7. Making sure you give credit to the right people
  8. Making sure you do not plagiarize in collaborative work
  9. How to know when you don’t need to cite something
  10. What happens at Vassar when a student is charged with plagiarism
  11. How to avoid a trip to the Academic Panel by using available resources
  12. Take-away tips: a summary of key points