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Citing Sources: Avoiding Plagiarism

Learn more about why we cite the sources we use, how to cite sources in a specific style, and strategies for avoiding plagiarism.

More About Plagiarism

The Council of Writing Program Administrators gives the following definition:

"In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledg­ing its source" (WPA, 2009).

Why Should I Care?

You give credibility to your own work when you let others know where you got your work.

It helps others learn more (taking a "deep dive") about a particular aspect of your topic.

You are spreading the word about other people's hard work.

It's the ethical thing to do.

  1. Use your own ideas. It is your project and therefore your ideas should be the focus.
  2. Use the ideas of others sparingly and only to support or reinforce your own argument.
  3. When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use.
  4. Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
  5. A good strategy is to take 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. It will help you think through what you want to say and help to prevent you from becoming to dependent on your sources.

Additional Resources

Examples of Plagiarism

  • Forgetting to cite one or more sources.
  • Swapping out a few words from a copied paragraph even if you cite the source (called patch writing).
  • Stringing together individual sentences from different sources and not citing them.
  • Paraphrasing one or more sources and not citing them.
  • Citing a source incorrectly.
  • Inserting a citation for a source you didn't use or that dosn't exist.
  • Using protions of another paper or project you wrote/created and not citing yourself.
  • Handing in a paper or project you wrote/created for a different class.
  • Copying whole paragraphs from another source and not citing it or citing it incorrectly.
  • Copying, purchasing, or taking another person's entire paper or project and claiming it is your own.

 

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