Skip to Main Content

Library Research and Study Skills: Plagiarism

This guide will help you with your study skills, library research, and time management.

Five easy tips ...

...To Avoid Plagiarism

  1. Take detailed notes on where you got all of your information.
  2. Write down direct quotes as they appear in the text, with pages numbers and author name.
  3. Clearly identify where the information came from when you are writing your papers
  4. Use your own words as much as possible
  5. When in doubt cite the source!

(From a Boise State University LibGuide)

Some Plagiarism Websites

These websites are among many plagiarism websites that have been created by universities across the country.  They represent accepted academic practices designed to help students to avoid plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a very serious offense. According to the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of plagiarize is "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own without crediting the source." Many assume that plagiarism is simply copying a written passage word for word. However, plagiarism may also include using others' ideas, thoughts, or conversation in your own paper without citing them; paraphrasing or summarizing other people's work without citing them; or copying images or text from the Web. University faculty have access to tools that can easily help them find and verify information that they may suspect as being plagiarized.

There are several different types of plagiarism.

  • The most obvious form of plagiarism is direct plagiarism, or copying something word for word.
  • Sometimes students plagiarize accidentally; this is known as accidental or unintentional plagiarism. This happens when you don't intend to plagiarize, but fail to cite sources correctly or copy too much of the source's original wording while trying to paraphrase or summarize the passage. Even when you summarize something in your own words, you must still cite the original source!
  • Another type of plagiarism is collusion, which refers to collaborating with others when working on school assignments or projects. Examples include allowing others to write or substantially edit your papers, or using someone else's paper or allowing them to use your own with permission.
  • You are guilty of self-plagiarism if you re-use your own paper, or even modify a paper you have already written, in another course, without getting prior approval of both instructors. Even if you have permission to use a previously written paper, you still must cite your own previous paper to avoid plagiarism.

To avoid plagiarism, try one of these three approaches to using outside sources:

  • Quoting To quote a source correctly, copy the passage word for word, place those words in quotation marks, and cite the source in which you found the quote. If you are quoting lengthy passages (ie. a whole paragraph), use block indentation and a citation.
  • Paraphrasing To paraphrase, restate the information from a source using your own words. A paraphrased passage will be about the same length as the original passage. One way to paraphrase a passage is to use an attributive tag, such as "According to Thomas Jefferson,...".
  • Summarizing A summarized passage includes only the main ideas of a source in your own words, leaving out specific details. Summaries are typically shorter than paraphrased passages, and still must be cited.

In general, if you have any question about whether to cite or not cite, you probably should cite the source.

(From a Weber State University LibGuide)