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Library Help Tools: Plagiarism

How Can I Avoid Plagiarism?

As well as knowing how to cite and reference your sources, use the following tips to help you avoid plagiarism.

Taking Notes

  • Before you start taking notes from a certain source, write down the author's name, the article title, the publication date, and the URL and date of access (if you are using an electronic source) at the top of the page. Remember to note this information for each source that you use. When you begin writing your paper, this information will help you see which author made certain arguments. It will also help you to cite and reference your sources.
  • If you see a certain phrase or sentence you would like to quote in your paper, place the phrase in quotation marks in your notes. When you begin writing your paper, this will serve as a reminder that the phrase is a quotation, not your own words. Remember that not placing a direct quotation in quotation marks is considered plagiarism.
  • Give yourself credit. While you are reading and taking notes, you might think of a point you would like to argue in your paper. Write your idea down, but highlight it or draw a circle around it so that you know this is your idea and not something you read in another source.

Using Quotations

  • Before you quote, begin the sentence with the author's name or the title of the article. This indicates to your reader that you are about to use someone else's words and ideas. For example, Prejean argues that "capital trials cost four to six times more than ordinary trials" (225) or According to the author of "Global Warming Update," some groups claim that "there are scientific doubts about the nature, severity and causes of climate change." If necessary, make sure you include a parenthetical reference or footnote at the end of the sentence. For more information see MLA Citing in Text and APA Citing in Text.
  • Place all quotations in quotation marks. If the quote is long, you may need to indent it. Check with your teacher or style guide to see what rules you should follow for long quotes.
  • Use quotes sparingly. Only quote when you think using the author's exact words is the best way to make a point. Do not include long quotations because you need to submit a certain number of pages or words.
  • If you need to include a quote within a quote (sometimes called an embedded quote) use single quotation marks ('...') instead of double ("...") to indicate that it is different.
  • If you need to shorten a quote, use an ellipsis (...) to indicate that you have left words out. If you need to add a word to a quotation to make it clearer, add the word or words in square brackets. Be careful that you do not change the original meaning of a quote. See examples below.
  • Original Source
    Supporters maintain that under the pay system currently in place in most U.S. public schools, teachers have little or no incentive to work hard, since they know their salaries will rise each year anyway. Merit pay rewards teachers who put the most effort into their jobs, advocates argue. Critics of the idea, however, say merit pay would create a significant amount of negative competition between teachers, who ideally should be working together to better teach their students ("Merit Pay for Teachers").
  • Shortening a Quote Correctly
    "Supporters maintain that ... merit pay rewards teachers who put the most effort into their jobs" ("Merit Pay for Teachers").
  • Shortening a Quote Incorrectly
    "Supporters maintain that ... merit pay would create a significant amount of negative competition between teachers, who ideally should be working together to better teach their students" ("Merit Pay for Teachers").
  • Original Source
    Bush's plan would use less federal funding by contracting coverage from private insurers. Those private insurers would keep costs low through managed care, a system in which recipients choose from a specified list of health care providers ("Medicare and Medicaid Update").
  • Adding a Word or Words Correctly
    The author states that "Bush's [Medicare] plan would use less federal funding by contracting coverage from private insurers" ("Medicare and Medicaid Update").
  • Adding a Word or Words Incorrectly
    Private insurers "would keep costs [incredibly] low through managed care, a system in which recipients choose from a specified list of health care providers" ("Medicare and Medicaid Update").

Avoiding Plagiarism

What Is Plagiarism?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to plagiarize is to "steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as ... [your] own." Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional plagiarism includes actions such as buying a paper from a Web site, copying an entire paper from another source, turning in someone's paper as your own, and hiring someone to write a paper for you. Unintentional plagiarism is less clear. The following actions are forms of plagiarism, whether intentional or not:

Paraphrase Correctly

  • Paraphrasing means taking facts or ideas from another source and putting them into your own words. Following another's sentence structure or words too closely is not paraphrasing. Remember that the words and sentences should be your own and in your style rather than that of the author. If you are worried about following another's words too closely, try reading the source and taking notes only after you have closed the book or minimized the page. When you have finished writing, check your paraphrase against the original source. If you have used two or more consecutive words of the author's, place the words in quotation marks.
  • Before you paraphrase, begin the sentence with the author's name or the title of the article. This indicates to your reader that you are about to use someone else's ideas; for example, "Prejean argues that capital trials are more expensive (225)"; or, "According to the author of 'Global Warming Update,' some groups claim that there are scientific doubts about climate change." If necessary, make sure you include a parenthetical reference or footnote at the end of the sentence. For more information see MLA Citing in Text and APA Citing in Text.

Check Your Citations

  • Be consistent when citing. Include source information each time you quote, paraphrase, or use someone else's words or ideas. For more information see When Should I Cite?
  • When you have finished writing your paper, go through it and check all parenthetical references or footnotes. Make sure that each parenthetical reference has a corresponding entry in your Works Cited or References list. Make sure that each footnote has a corresponding entry at the end of the page. If you are using endnotes, make sure that each note has a corresponding entry in your Notes or Footnotes page. Remember that including false citation information is also considered plagiarism.

Citation Information: Avoiding Plagiarism

Citation:

"Avoiding Plagiarism." Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. <http://www.2facts.com/article/ircs00000001>.

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