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Using Evidence: Not Enough Citations

Not Enough Citations

Plagiarism can appear in a paper in the form of insufficient citations. The author is not giving the reader enough information to understand (a) what information is from a source or (b) which source the author used.

To make sure you are including enough citations in a paper, you will want to cite sources either parenthetically or narratively in each sentence you use a source. Here is an example of a paragraph that uses multiple sources:

Conflict is inevitable in a healthcare environment because of emotional, financial, and operational stressors that heighten its potential (Vivar, 2006). Conflict, however, is both a positive and negative phenomenon that effective nurse leaders delineate using their skills to develop insight (Manion, 2005). The purpose of this application is to analyze a conflict situation in nursing practice using Sportsman's (2005) framework of conflict assessment.

If the author had not included citations for each of these sources in the sentence where he or she used them, the reader would not be sure which information came from Vivar (2006) and which came from Manion (2005).

Here is an example of a paragraph that does not have enough citations for information the author has paraphrased:

Teachers use differentiated instruction to help students learn, allowing the teacher to cater lessons to the way each student learns and to each student's skills. Differentiation in teaching helps students who learn in different ways. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) sets rigid standards for teachers, which do not allow for multiple approaches to teaching and learning. In this way, NCLB is not compatible with differentiation in the classroom (Thompson, 2009).

In this paragraph, the author has included a citation only at the very end of the paragraph. In fact, however, the author used Thompson's (2009) information throughout the paragraph. This format creates confusion for the reader who is not sure where the author got the information in the first three sentences. In order for the paragraph above to be correct, each sentence would require a citation.