Using Resources - Cite Your Sources

Presented by: S.O.S. Team

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


In this lesson, students will learn the importance of citing resources and the methods employed.

This lesson plan was originally created to be used in conjunction with Library Online Basic Orientation (LOBO) at North Carolina State University:

Submitted with permission of Dr. Megan Oakleaf.

Goals & Objectives:

Information Literacy Objective


The student will use a citation manual to properly cite research sources.


Student Objective


The student will locate research sources related to their individual research topics.


The student will write in-text & bibliographic citations using a citation style guide.


The student will create bibliographies or works cited using their citation style manuals.



Citation style guide

Computer with projection


Citation style guide (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)

Homework assigned

Computer with word processor, if possible, or paper and pen


Note: For this lesson, it is helpful if students have already begun researching, and are just beginning to write their research assignment.


Introduction (Time = 5 minutes)


·        Ask students to recall your previous discussions about plagiarism and their work on the “Understanding Plagiarism” LOBO module.  Remind/quiz students about the 5 types of plagiarism, and the ways in which it can be prevented. 

1.      Copy/Paste

2.      Word Switch

3.      Style

4.      Metaphor

5.      Idea (those which are not accepted as general knowledge)


·        Tell students that today you are going to be working more closely with citation style guides in order to gain practice using them and to help prevent plagiarism.  Also, tell students, “The purpose of accurately citing research materials used is to help others read, verify, and study your work.  Consistency in citation format helps others to locate the materials you’ve used.” 


·        Give students an overview of lesson.  Explain that students will be using their list of sources to get some practice in class with writing correct citations.


Transition: Have students take out their research topics and sources.  Tell students that they will be using their topics in order to practice citing their research.


Procedure (Time = approximately 35 minutes)


1.      Explain that often students have trouble citing their sources because they are not familiar with citation style guides, and because they have not had much practice. 


2.      Tell students, “While doing research, it is good practice to keep good notes and record all important information as you work, rather than waiting to compile a bibliography at the end.  One way to keep a record of your sources is to write information down the information on note cards, or to keep a running list in a word document, which you can easily add to.  These methods ensure that you will not fail to cite any of the information you use.”  Tell students that they will be able to save themselves a lot of time by using their citation style manuals throughout this process rather than at the end.


3.      Show students the appropriate chapter in their citation style manual in which citation rules and samples are shown for in-text or footnote citations are shown.  Go through examples and point out the many types of sources listed in the manual.  (It is important to show students the many different types of citations for various sources so that they do not attempt to cite every source in plain book format.)


4.      Explain NCSU’s Citation Builder.  If possible, show students the tool available from:  Explain that although this is a very helpful tool, it is still important to check citation manuals for accurate citations.


5.      Ask students to take out the one source that they have in-hand (book, journal, website printout, etc.).


6.      Have students quickly choose some part of their source and write 2-3 sentences including information directly taken from that source, much like they did in the “Integrating Research” lesson.  (Students could use some piece of factual information, or any quotation.  At this stage, content is not as important as having the ability to accurately cite the source.)  Instruct students to use the citation manual to properly cite their information based on the citation style they are using.  (Students can either write this on paper to be turned in later, or open a MS Word document that can be printed or later e-mailed to the instructor for assessment.)


7.      When finished have students share their citations with others in the class to compare and contrast.  Discuss as a class and show several examples.  Note the differences among various types of sources.


8.      Show students the section of their citation style manual that describes the works cited or bibliography page. 


9.      Have the class put their list of sources into proper citation style format for a bibliography/works cited page by using their citation style guides.  Allow students to work independently for approximately 10-12 minutes.  Students should record their “Works Cited” information on the same piece of paper or word document that they used for the earlier exercise.


10. Ask students if they encountered any problems in creating their citations.  Circulate throughout the classroom to help students who are having trouble.  


Closure (Time = 5 minutes)


·        Have students e-mail or turn in their work with citations.  Explain that you will be checking them for accuracy.  Any incorrect citations will be marked and students will be asked to look up their mistake and correct it.

·        Explain that the more familiar students become with their citation manuals, the faster they will become at citing their sources.

·        Tell students, “You may not find an exact example for all research resources in the citation manual.  If an exact resource type match cannot be found, follow similar models as closely as possible, providing as much information as you can, or ask your instructor.” 

·        Encourage students to use the Ask-A-Librarian service if they are having difficulty locating sources or citation manuals in the library.

·        Summarize the main points of the lesson



Lesson Evaluation

What worked well for you?



What will you do differently next time?



Student Assessment

Students may be assessed based on their work turned in from class.