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How to Avoid Plagiarism

A guide to recognizing and avoiding plagiarism in your research and writing.

How To

Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism is ....

Ideas to Consider

WHAT ABOUT DIRECT QUOTES?
Direct quotations should always be indicated as such (by using quotation marks or indenting) and the source cited. Use direct quotes only as examples or illustrations of a point you've already made. Keep them short, and merge them smoothly into the text of the paper with a few words of introduction. Your paper should always consist of mostly your own words, not of quotations.

SUMMARIZING: WHAT IF I PUT SOMEONE ELSE'S IDEAS IN MY OWN WORDS?
You still need to use a footnote to indicate that the ideas are not your own. Paraphrasing or summarizing, that is, rewording another's ideas into your own, is still plagiarism unless you acknowledge that the ideas were not yours.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE: DO I HAVE TO FOOTNOTE EVERY FACT?
No. If the fact is something that can be verified in more than one reference source, such as the dates of World War II, the capitol of France, the date of James I's wedding or the name of Henry VIII's fourth wife, then there is no need to cite the source of your information. It is considered "common knowledge." After you've done some reading on your subject, you will be able to distinguish common knowledge in that field (facts, dates, and figures) from the distinctive ideas of specific writers.

When in doubt, try to remember where you found the information. If you can remember a specific book, article, lecture, interview, or other source, then it may be that the information is not common knowledge, and a source ought to be cited. One rule of thumb is that any novel or startling assertion, or any statement that might arouse the curiosity of your reader, should be cited. If you are still in doubt, ask your instructor.

WHAT ABOUT CUTTING AND PASTING ONLINE SOURCES?

Online sources include blogs, Web pages, electronic books and journal articles. Any material you use from an online source should be acknowledged in the same way it would from a traditional print publication. Accessing information electronically does not change the rules.


Cutting and pasting information from online sources can make it particularly vulnerable to plagiarism. Since it is so easy to cut-and-paste something into your paper, it creates a temptation to be dishonest. Don't do it.


Thompson, Sue. "Avoiding Online Plagiarism." Library | California State University San Marcos. Cal State San Marcos Library, 26 Feb. 2004. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://library.csusm.edu/plagiarism/howtoavoid/how_avoid_internet.htm>.

Loras College Library Plagiarism Tutorial

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