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Citations and Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?


Using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's works as one's own, as by not crediting the original author. ( Includes taking art, photos, graphics, tables, etc. and claiming them as your own without proper credit to the actual creator.

It isn't just about Copy/Paste

Plagiarism takes many forms, but the most common types on college campuses include:

  • downloading a research paper
  • purchasing a paper from a commercial paper mill
  • copying a paper from a friend or classmate
  • copying an article from the web or an online journal or database
  • cutting and pasting information from different sources to create one document
  • faking a citation
  • submitting a paper for one class that you have previously used in another class

Avoiding Plagiarism

Most people do not deliberately set out to commit plagiarism. Usually, it results from:


It is important to set aside adequate time to complete your assignment. When using sources, you should get in the habit of citing them in full as you write. Filling in page numbers, making footnotes, or making a works cited page or bibliography after you have finished writing often leads to inadvertent miscitations or omissions.

Incomplete Understanding of Original Material

Avoid using any source with which you are not completely comfortable. As a general rule, if you cannot restate the main idea of a passage in your own words without referring to the original source, then you should not use this source for your own work.

Citation Errors

Common errors that lead to accidental plagiarism include using words or passages from the original source without using quotation marks and/or without citing the source; using different citation formats within the same assignment; or using a citation format incorrectly.

Poor Note-Taking

Inexperienced students often forget to put quotation marks around notes taken directly from text, or find that their notes are disorganized. As a result, they cannot tell which notes came from which source when they are in the stages of writing up their assignment.

Plagiarism Checkers

The following websites allow you to upload your paper and have it checked for potential plagiarism. Note that none of these are 100% accurate, but they can help find the worst errors.

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