Citation engages you in a scholarly conversation. By citing work, you're able to support it, show where's it's wrong, or expand it. Properly formatted citations allow your readers to follow up on the work you've used so they can participate, too.
Citation bolsters your authority. Citation makes your arguments more credible and persuasive.
Citation gives credit to the original authors for their work. Scholars aren't paid for their contributions to peer-reviewed journals. The credit that accrues to them when they're cited is the only way they can be rewarded for their efforts.
Cite as you go. Keep a rough draft of your References list, using the pre-formatted citations from OneSearch or the databases, as you find sources. As you read and take notes, make sure to include a parenthetical reference to the source.
Or, even better - use a citation manager like Zotero.
Stay focused on your own, original thesis. Your research paper should make an original argument that you personally develop, although it is grounded in the literature and supported by evidence. While the early stages of your research process might involve mostly notes on sources, by your final draft the focus should be on your own argument in your own words.
When in doubt, cite.
Consequences of Plagiarizing
Professors won't serve as a reference or make connections to opportunities in the field for plagiarizers.
Rampant plagiarism in a degree program makes that degree worthless to employers.
"Cheating or plagiarism in connection with an academic program at a CSU campus is listed in Section 41301, Title 5, California Code of Regulations as an offense for which a student may be expelled, suspended or given a less severe disciplinary sanction. Academic dishonesty is an especially serious offense and diminishes the quality of scholarship and defrauds those who depend on the integrity of the University’s programs." Policies & Procedures, CSUN University Catalog, 2017-2018.