What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using another author's work as if it were your own. The work may come from anywhere: a book, a journal article, a website, a song, or any other form of communication from any medium. It may be intentional or unintentional. Regardless of your intent, plagiarism carries severe consequences in the academic and business worlds. It will damage your reputation and credibility. Fortunately, it can be avoided by properly citing your sources. Donnelly College wants to help students and faculty by providing this information.

Tips on avoiding plagiarism

  • Take good notes
  • Mark quotations carefully
  • Never write with the text directly in front of you unless making an exact quotation
  • Keep a record of all of your sources
  • Credit your sources in your paraphrase or summary
  • When using direct quotes, use the author's name in the same sentence
  • Check your paper against the original sources to make certain you have not borrowed too many words
  • Use direct quotes judiciously to make your paper more interesting
  • Use direct quotes if the ideas are too complex to paraphrase

When must I give credit and cite my sources?

You must cite sources every time you use another author's ideas, theories, and opinions whether you quote the author exactly or if you paraphrase. This includes both written and spoken words. You must also give credit for photos, graphics, drawings, tables, statistics, music and facts that are not considered general information.

What information does not have to be cited?

Information does not have to be cited if...
It is considered common knowledge and can be found in at least 5 credible sources
It is based on your experience or observations
It you are writing up the results of your own experiment
It is a generally accepted fact

Is it okay to paraphrase without citation?

No. This issue is about copying ideas, not the words themselves.  However, for the sake of readability and to demonstrate your understanding of the material properly cited paraphrasing is generally preferable to exact quotes.

Can I be accused of plagiarism if I properly cite my sources?

Even if you properly cite your sources, if you use a large amount of another author's work in proportion to your total paper, you could have plagiarism issues. You will also have plagiarism issues if your paraphrasing is too close to the original work. If you have any doubts about your paraphrasing, use quotations.

Other forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism also includes copying another student's work or submitting work purchased from a commercial source as your own.

Style Guides and Citation Builders

Properly citing material will help you avoid plagiarism. Below are liks to two free websites that will build citations for you. We have also recommended books that books provide specific information about citations.