This tutorial will help you to recognize plagiarism and provide you with strategies for avoiding it.
You have something in common with the smartest people in the world. You see, everyone has ideas. We use our minds to create something original, whether it’s a poem, a drawing, a song, or a scientific paper.
Some of the most important ideas are published and make it into books, journals, newspapers and trustworthy websites that become the building blocks for things we all learn.
But ideas are also very personal, and we need dependable ways to keep track of the people behind the ideas we use because they deserve credit for their contribution, just as you do if someone uses your idea. Passing off another person’s ideas or words as your own, without credit, is called plagiarism. Whether it’s your friend’s term paper or words of a well-known author, plagiarism is cheating and dishonest.
Meet Cassie, a university student. She has an assignment to write a paper about changing weather patterns. Cassie’s project involves building on other people’s ideas that she finds in books, magazines, and websites.
She’s not the kind of person who would plagiarize by turning in someone else’s work, but she is aware that plagiarism can happen accidentally, so she follows some basic rules:
First, when she quotes an author directly, she uses quotations marks around the words to show that they are not hers, alongside a mention of the author’s name. She even does this in her notes to make sure she doesn’t forget.
Second, she’s careful to use only her own words when she’s not quoting directly. She can summarize or paraphrase an idea, as long as she’s accurate and references the original source. For example, she begins with “As Smith found”.
Third, ideas like drawings, speeches, music, structural models, and statistics can also be plagiarized. Like words, she can use them as long as she gives credit.
And lastly, she’s aware that some ideas are common knowledge and don’t need a source. For example, the idea that rain falls from clouds is common knowledge and doesn’t need a source, but rainfall measurements by a weather agency does require credit.
A few weeks later Cassie turned in her paper with the confidence that she had avoided plagiarism and maybe even provided some new ideas that other students in her field could use in the future, with credit, of course.
This video explains what plagiarism is and how to prevent it.
This video provides strategies to help you avoid unintentional plagiarism while working with sources and completing assignments.
Start early. Rushing makes you more likely to lose track of sources, take shortcuts, or fail to cite properly. Take notes carefully. Consider making notes on individual cards or Word documents, to avoid mixing up sources. Be sure to include full bibliographical information for the source so that you don’t forget where the notes came from. Cut and paste with caution. Don’t take chunks of text from your sources without recording exactly where they came from, including the title and page number. Use colour coding. Use a different colour for information taken from each source, and to distinguish your own ideas from ones you are borrowing. Include references as you make notes, and as you write your paper. Do not plan to go back and add them later. You may lose track or run out of time.
You will need to incorporate information from sources into your assignment, by quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Citing goes hand in hand with using sources.
Quoting is using an author’s words exactly as they appear in the source, and using quotation marks or block indenting. For example, here is a quote from a journal article. The quote is introduced with a signal phrase, which indicates that you are about to include a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary. Two common signal phrases are, “The author suggests that…” and “The author argues that…”.
Paraphrasing is rewriting a passage from a source in your own words in order to simplify and clarify the author’s ideas. Here is a paraphrase of the quotation from Lubbe and Scholtz’s article, which we saw earlier. Word-switching is replacing some of the words in a passage with synonyms. It is plagiarism. Change the original passage enough that you can call the writing your own, while acknowledging that the idea belongs to someone else.
Summarizing is using your own words to present a shorter restatement of an author’s main ideas, focusing on the central points only. For example, here is a summary of the main ideas in the therapy animal article. Write a summary from memory to avoid plagiarizing the author’s words.
Consider quoting directly from a source only when it's important to share the author’s exact words, or if paraphrasing or summarizing could alter the meaning. Paraphrase or summarize when you want to share an idea, especially when you can express it using fewer words. Most of the time you should use summary and paraphrase.
You must cite a source when you quote, paraphrase, or summarize it, use charts, graphs or images from it, or include facts that you learned from the source that are not common knowledge.
Check with your professor to confirm his or her requirements. There are many citation styles. If you’re asked to use APA, check out the APA Guide on the library website for help with constructing in-text citations and reference pages. An in-text citation appears in parentheses, immediately after you include a quote, paraphrase, or summary in the body of your assignment. Here’s what an APA in-text citation may look like. A reference page citation appears on your reference page, and provides all bibliographical information for a source. You must include a reference page citation for each source that you use in your assignment. Here’s what an APA reference page citation may look like.
Applying the tips and strategies outlined here will help to ensure that your assignment and presentations are plagiarism-free. If you have any questions, ask for help.