Plagiarism: What It Is and How To Prevent It

Understanding Plagiarism

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not, “What is Plagiarism?” (accessed 1/29/2018)

Frequently Used Terms

When an instructor talks about plagiarism, she or he may use some of the following terms:

Cite/Citation: How you give an author credit.

When citing, provide the author’s name when you first introduce your quote, summary, or paraphrase of his or her text (e.g., “Harris writes,” “According to Rodriguez”). After the last sentence of your quote, summary, or paraphrase, provide the page numbers of the information you are citing. In the works cited or references page, provide the full bibliographic information according to the style requirements of your instructor or discipline. Keep in mind that your citation style might change if your instructor asks that you stick to certain style guidelines such as MLA or APA. Regardless of which style you use, any time you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source you must cite it. Ask your instructor if you are unsure how you should cite your sources.

Quote/Quoting: Using the exact words of an author.

Quote when the author’s exact words are important. Use quotation marks to designate that all the words in the quotation marks are exactly as the author wrote them.

Paraphrase/Paraphrasing: Putting an author’s writing in your own words but keeping the original meaning.

Paraphrase when the author’s exact words are not important, but the meaning is what you want your readers to remember. Make your paraphrase the same length as, or only slightly shorter than, the original text. Do not put quotation marks around a paraphrase.

Note: Just changing words in a quotation is not enough; you also need to change the organization and sentence structure (just be sure to keep the original meaning).

Summary/Summarizing: Brief explanation of a longer text, using your own words.

Summaries are significantly shorter than the text being summarized. Summaries are neutral, so do not include your opinions on the text. Also, as with the paraphrase, do not put quotation marks around a summary.

Purdue Online Writing Lab, “Plagiarism and ESL Writers: An Overview” (accessed 1/29/2018)

Preventing Plagiarism when Writing

  • When in Doubt, Cite Sources
  • Make it Clear Who Said What
  • Know How to Paraphrase
  • Analyze and Evaluate Your Sources, “Preventing Plagiarism when Writing” (accessed 1/29/2018)