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Avoiding Plagiarism: How (and Why) to Avoid Plagiarism

What is plagiarism? Why should I cite sources?

The Whole Internet TruthCartoon used under Creative Commons from

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved November 11, 2010, from <>

Plagiarism is wrong because..

It is unethical
It is illegal
It is against all academic codes of conduct
It robs the plagiarizer of important skills

The Fraud of Plagiarism tutorial. Retrieved December 9, 2010, from "Why is it wrong?" <>

When you quote or paraphrase another person's idea in your research paper, it is imperative that you provide a proper citation to the source you used: avoid plagiarism (presenting someone else's ideas as your own is a violation of the Honor Code) give credit to the author of the idea allow someone else to locate the source lend credibility to your work provides an excellent definition of plagiarism and gives useful examples.

Examples of plagiarism

Here are some common types of plagiarism.

  • Completely copying another's work, word-for-word without citation
  • Copying pieces of one or more sources without citations
  • Paraphrasing a small or large portion of another's work without citation
  • Improper citation (leaving out info or providing inaccurate info)
  • Mixing proper citation and no (or improper) citation
  • Copying one's own work from a previous publication or assignment without indicating that it was a previous work

Types of Plagiarism (n.d.) Retrieved August 28, 2012, from <>

Plagiarism tutorials and information

Related reading

How to cite sources correctly

There are different standards for citing sources in bibliographies of research papers, depending on the academic discipline. In general, however, a citation should include all of the information necessary for someone else to locate the source (author, title, source & issue information, date). Ask your professor which particular style he/she prefers.

Guides to help you with citing sources accurately:

    Department Style Guides

    What citation style does your major use?

    This useful guide, created by the University Library at California State University Long Beach, helps you explore style manuals and journal citation methods specific to academic disciplines and journals.

    Citing tools and reference management

    Reference management tools can save you time and make your research and writing time more efficient.  Reference management tools are online tools that help you organize your references and cite your sources easily and quickly.