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I am writing a historical paper about Operation Mincemeat for National History Day. I have never written anything in this format before, so I am confused. Also, citing sources incorrectly can get you disqualified for plagiarism.

Many of my sources do not mention everything I need to write detailed and informational sentences, but I do have the information.

For example, the first sentence of my paper is “On April 30, 1943, the dead body of Major William Martin was dragged ashore in Huelva, Spain.” Everything except for the name “Major William Martin” comes from the first page of Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre. The name William Martin is not mentioned until page 64, so do I need to also cite page 64 in my footnote?

Later on, I would like to write, “Purchase proclaimed that Michael’s body was going to be buried outside of the country.” Everything except for the name “Purchase” came from an article by Megan Lane for BBC News Magazine. This time, however, “Purchase” came from an entirely different source, so do I need to cite both, or just the article?

Finally, I wrote, “He eventually made his way to London, where he ingested rat poison, most likely as an attempt to kill himself.” The article states outright that he did it as an attempt to kill himself, I’m not quite sure, given what the other sources say. Can I include a conclusion that I came to myself, or do I need to stick to exactly what the source says?

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  • "Also, citing sources incorrectly can get you disqualified for plagiarism." << If you intentionally misrepresent something as being your own work when it's someone else's, then yes, that's plagiarism. But if this is a school project whose main goal is to teach you about making presentations or writing papers, then "how to cite" is part of the learning experience, and you won't be accused of dishonest behaviour just because the way you use citations is somehow not up to standards.
    – Stef
    Jan 8 at 10:52

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Please only ask one question at once!

  1. Yes, you need to mention both pages in your footnote.

  2. Yes, you need to cite both sources.

  3. First of all, if your sources make assumptions, say so, e.g. "Roberts believes that...". Do not cite assumptions as fact! Second, yes, you can (if the rules for your paper allow that) state your own opinion, but you should make it clear that it is your opinion and not found in any of the sources, e.g. "In my opinion Roberts misunderstood...".

Also, please consider discussing these questions with your teacher. It is their job to teach you how to do these things, after all, and your fellow students might profit from the answers, too.

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  • What do you mean by “Please only ask one question at once!”? Did you mean that I should not post a question almost immediately after I post a different one? Or did you mean that I should only ask a question once, since my two questions are very similar and the answers overlap? Was it something else entirely? @Ben Jan 10 at 22:53
  • @KathrynHuang The three last paragraphs of your post (called a "question") each contain a distinct separate question (to which I refered with "1.", "2." and "3.". On this site, each post (or "question") should contain only one question.
    – Ben
    Jan 11 at 5:44

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