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 "cite your sources" means and how to maintain academic integrity.
Plagiarism occurs in your writing when you use the words, ideas, data, or information from one or more sources incorrectly. Plagiarism is one form of academic misconduct and it can result in serious consequences. How do you avoid plagiarism and academic misconduct,while ensuring you are using information ethically in your writing?
Cite your sources! You must cite your sources whenever you include any sort of information, data, ideas or words that are not your own in your writing. This includes when you are writing an essay, report, paper, case study OR preparing a visual assignment such as a poster, infographic, brochure or presentation. Citing your sources is an expectation for post-secondary level writing and research.
But what does “Cite your sources” mean? The process of telling your reader where you found your information has many names. You might be asked to acknowledge your sources, cite your sources, back up your argument, provide references, cite, use citations, give credit, integrate sources, provide documentation, or document your sources. That's a lot of different ways to describe one simple idea: whenever you include someone else's concepts, information or words to prepare your own assignment, you must tell your reader exactly where it came from. We do this through a process commonly called “citation”.
There are several different citation styles,but the American Psychological Association Style (APA style) is the one most frequently used at Georgian. Always check with your professor if you are unsure of the expectations. Wait… What is a source? Any information you use, refer to, or quote in your writing, including: Articles, books, news, websites, reports, images, data, charts, videos, interviews, ideas, blog or social media posts, an image, photo, chart or graph. Anything you find/read/hear/learn on the web, in the library, in a physical book, in class, or from another person could be considered a source.
Why should I use sources? Sources are used to help support your ideas, claims, or argument in many types of writing. At the post-secondary level, it's not enough to just talk or write about something you're studying or are interested in! Unless otherwise specified, you are expected to support your ideas and writing with credible sources. That's any source based on reliable research and/or knowledge and experience.
How do I cite my sources? In any citation style, there are 3 main ways of using any outside source: summarizing, paraphrasing or quoting. When summarizing and paraphrasing, you consider the original writer's ideas, words and sentences, but explain what they have said using different words and sentences - your OWN words!. You must include a note immediately after your summary or paraphrase that tells the reader where the idea came from. This is called an in-text citation. When you quote, you use another writer's words exactly as they are found in the original source.
You must put those words inside “quotation marks” and include an in-text citation. Regardless of how you use ideas that are not your own, you must cite your sources! If you don't, you have plagiarized, EVEN if you didn't mean to - and this can lead to serious consequences. Citing your sources is a two-step process. To avoid plagiarism, you MUST complete both steps:
1. Add a short note to your sentence or paragraph immediately after you use someone else's information. This note is usually called an in-text citation but may also be called: a parenthetical or narrative reference, or a reference in brackets. Narrative references are also used in signal phrases, which introduce a quote, summary or paraphrase BEFORE it appears in your writing.
2. Add a full listing of the source's information at the end of your paper. This part of the citation is commonly called a reference. Other names for a reference are full citation, reference list or page entry, or bibliography. In APA style, the reference page is the last page of your paper, and you will list all of the information about all sources used in your paper. Each source used in your writing must have an in-text citation AND matching reference page entry to ensure you avoid plagiarism.
Where do I learn how to do this? APA style requires that your in-text citation and reference page entry for each source to be written in a very specific way, including what information is provided, the order it is written in, and what it should look like. Part of your job as a student writer is to learn how to use an APA style guide to properly cite every source you consult. The rules that tell us how to properly cite our sources are contained within the APA Style guide, an actual book published by the American Psychological Association.
Who can help me with this? Many students are unfamiliar with APA citation. Georgian has a lot of resources to help you become confident in using APA style in your writing. The Writing Centre and Language Help Centre help students to develop their writing skills, including APA citation and how to format the document you create. Always check with your professor if you are unclear about assignment requirements or whether to use APA style to cite your sources!
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.