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Plagiarism (and how to avoid it): How can you avoid plagiarism?

Definition of plagiarism, examples, and guidance on ethical use of sources.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Quote, Paraphrase, Summarize

When you use information from outside sources to support your arguments, you need to decide how you will present that information in your paper.

Quote: use the author’s exact language, word for word

Tips for using quotations:

  • Use quotes only when the exact wording is important to retain meaning, or you think it is important to use the author's original words in your paper.
  • Don't overuse quotations; use them to emphasize a point or support your argument.
  • Avoid long quotations when a short one will suffice.
  • Don't take quotations out of context to misrepresent the original author's opinion.
  • Be certain you understand any technical terms the author uses.
  • Always introduce your quotations with a signal phrase, such as "according to Smith" or other means of contextualizing them.
  • Use a variety of sources. If all of the quotes used come from one source, you are limiting your credibility and lack support for your claims.
Paraphrase: restate the author’s exact language in your own words

Tips for paraphrasing: 

  • Change the phrasing (not just a couple of words).
  • Keep/preserve the focus or author's intent intact.
  • Cite the source you used to get the information even though you put it into your own words.
Summarize: summarize a long passage into a brief synopsis of the content

Tips for summarizing:

  • Make sure you understand what your source is saying.
  • Capture the main points in your own words.
  • Do this when space limitations are an issue.
Avoid plagiarism by quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing!

Avoiding Plagiarism (CC) from PALNI on Vimeo.

Cite to Avoid Plagiarism

When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize information from another source, usually you need acknowledge the author of that source with a citation.

When do you need to cite?
•    When you copy, paraphrase, or summarize from another source (including your own work)
•    When you use artwork, graphics, or data created by someone else
•    When you incorporate digital media into your project
When don't you need to cite?
•    When writing your own (unpublished) thoughts, experiences, or conclusions 
•    When using your own artwork, graphics, or data
•    When you are including common knowledge information
Use this flowchart to help you decide:

EasyBib Plagiarism Infographic
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