How can I keep from plagiarizing?

To keep from plagiarizing, you need to make sure you understand what counts as plagiarism, be organized in your research process, give yourself time to develop your own ideas before, during and after doing research and know how to cite sources correctly.

What counts as plagiarism?

You need a citation not only when you use words from a source, but also when you borrow an idea, fact or statistic from a source. All words from a source must be in quotation marks and correctly cited. This is true whether you copy a paragraph from a website, a page from a friend, a sentence from a book or a phrase from an article. Even if you put the ideas from a source in your own words, you still need a citation. If you take statistics or an obscure fact from a source, you need a citation.

Not only do you need a citation, you want one. Otherwise, how will your reader know to give you credit for all of the research you have done?

DePaul considers all students responsible for knowing the school’s Academic Integrity Policy, which includes the definition of plagiarism quoted below. If you have any questions about this policy or definition, be sure to ask your teacher, mentor or advisor.

Plagiarism is a major form of academic dishonesty involving the presentation of the work of another as one's own. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to the following:

How is organization related to plagiarism?

For correct citations, you need to plan ahead when you are taking notes. You don’t want to be the student who is frantically looking for a website or library book the night before a paper is due to get the citation information he or she forgot to write down earlier.

If the information from your notes makes it into your paper, you will need information about your source that is most easily gathered when you are taking your notes. For example, you need to know what page number text from books or articles comes from, the first and last pages of an article, the date you visited a website as well as the complete URL. The best way to do this is to get into the habit of writing out the citation for your source before you begin to take notes on it.

You also need to keep track of which words come directly from your source, which words are your summary of what the sources says and which words are your own ideas in response to or prompted by your source. Using quotation marks around any words from a source will help you know what you have taken directly from a source. If you cut and paste from a website, remember to add these quotation marks. Some students use columns or different colors to help themselves remember what is and what is not from a source.

Why do you need to give yourself time to develop your own ideas before, during and after the research process?

In a research paper, you should be using your sources to support your ideas. However, it is very easy to lose sight of your own ideas or to get confused about what are your ideas and what ideas came from your sources if you immerse yourself in reading what “the experts” have to say without pausing to reflect upon your own thoughts. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you give yourself time to write about `what you think before you start researching and in response to each source.

How do you cite sources correctly?

Ask your teacher whether he or she prefers APA or MLA citation. See this page from the library’s website for several websites that explain these and other citation styles. The Citation Machine is a free tool for helping you format citations. DePaul computers have EndNote, a more sophisticated tool for working with citations.

For more on plagiarism and how to avoid it visit this website from Indiana University’s School of Education.

Here are a number of other resources.

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