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Why Cite

  1. to identify where you used other people's ideas and information
  2. to indicate the sources of that information (and provide your reader a way to track them down)
  3. to help you use information ethically and avoid plagiarism

What to Cite

Every time you use someone else's ideas and information, including quotations, paraphrased information, graphs, tables, and images you should provide a proper citation.

Which Citation Style to Use

There are hundreds of different citation styles. The three that are most commonly used at MRU are:

Learning How to Cite

Support for those learning to cite is available in person, and online via both custom MRU sources and many other free online resources. Check out some key resources:

  • MRU citation guides - MRU guides have been created for the commonly used styles.
  • In person help is available on campus for quick questions at the Library Service Desk, or via the live chat widget on the Library homepage (bottom right). Help for some students is available from Student Learning Services (one to one appointment and workshops)
  • Lots more help online - just search for the name of your citation style using Google.

Disciplinary Norms

Norms may vary somewhat between disciplines. To find out more about approaches in a particular discipline contact a subject specialist/liaison librarian.

Warning Signs

When reviewing documents watch for warning signs that may indicate plagiarism:

  • unusual phrases (try searching these in Google)
  • uneven style (for example simple phrases followed by sophisticated ones)
  • unclear or incorrect sources in the bibliography

Detecting Plagiarism

Tools: Some tools exist that can help identify matching text. **Note: Tools can detect matching text, but only a person can determine whether plagiarism has occurred.

  • Google (or other standard search engine): Try putting an suspect phrase into a search engine to see if a match is found.
  • WCopyfind: Free open source program that compares documents and reports similarities in their words and phrases. Good for creating your own database of documents to compare to each other. For example if you have the same assignment every year in a class you can build a database of assignments to check against each other. This helps prevent students from sharing their work with each other.

Discussion with the author: If plagiarism is detected, try meeting with the author and discuss the information to assess their familiarity with the content they submitted.

Subject specialist / liaison librarian: If you suspect plagiarism but are having trouble confirming it using the tools listed here you can contact a subject specialist / liaison Librarian for help. They can provide you with suggestions for additional places to search for potential sources.

For information on the use of copyright materials in the classroom and online visit the Mount Royal University Copyright Guide

Copyright-related questions and requests for a copyright information session can be sent to the Copyright Advisor

Manage and cite your research

There are many reference manager programs you can choose from (even beyond the three listed here). These three do all the basics: manage your references, create in-text citations and bibliographies. You should pick the one that is right for you.

*Free at the moment, but was purchased by Elsevier in 2013.

Mendeley has three parts: Mendeley Web, Mendeley Desktop, Mendeley Citation creator

Mendeley Web

  • You can also download  – Desktop and Word plug in (citation generator)
  • My Library – the documents you have saved
  • Remember to load it into toolbars of all the browsers  you use

Mendeley Desktop

  • Adding references to your Mendeley library - video tutorial
  • Drag PDF files from your desktop into Mendeley and they are automatically added!
  • Watch a folder - anything added to this folder will be indexed in Mendeley
  • Clean up citation info, add notes and tags
  • Open sources to add highlights and sticky notes
  • Remember to synchronize to Mendeley Web as you go

Generate citations with Mendeley

  • Video tutorial
  • Two options
    • Use the plug-in to create in text- citations and your reference list
      • Lives in Word toolbar
      • ‘Insert citation’ takes you to Mendeley desktop to select source
      • ‘Insert bibliography’ adds references for everything you’ve cited
    • Copy citation directly into your reference list
      • You may find it simpler to select and right-click to copy citations from your library (though you will have to make your own in-text citations)
  • Choose from a range of formats

 More Mendeley info can be found on their site, here:


  • Free open source program that integrates with your web browser.
  • Minimal storage capacity unless you upgrade ($)


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Erik Christiansen

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