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Avoiding Plagiarism: Home

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the use of another person’s words or ideas and representing them as your own. 

Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. 

To make sure you have avoided plagiarism in your work, you should:

  • Accurately quote the original author's words.
  • Enclose the quotation within quotation marks.
  • Follow the quotation with an in-text citation.
  • Introduce the quotation with a phrase that includes the author's name.
  • Provide a list of references with full citation information at the end of the paper.

Forms of Plagiarism

A student is considered to have "plagiarized" when s/he has failed to acknowledge sources or has not acknowledged sources accurately and completely. Plagiarism can occur in many types of assignments, including but not limited to:

  • Essays, response papers, research papers, oral reports, presentations. lab reports, drawings, mathematical proofs, computer projects, images

Plagiarism occurs any time and every time a writer relies upon the words and ideas (in a variety of forms) of another without acknowledging that source fully and correctly.

Thank you to Saint Anselm College for this content - Academic Integrity & Plagiarism Tutorial: Plagiarism

Some types of plagiarism are intentional attempts to deceive others. Intentional plagiarism occurs when a student deliberately chooses to use other people's ideas in part or all of his own assignment without giving credit to the other writer(s). By turning in this type of plagiarized assignment, the student is claiming that the work is his own, but is is not.

Intentional plagiarism occurs when a student turns in an assignment that was:

  • written by another student.
  • originally published in another source such as a journal, newspaper, magazine or website.
  • purchased or downloaded from a website or service which sells essays or provides them for free.

All of these examples are types of intentional plagiarism. It doesn't matter whether you paid for the essay or got it for free, whether your friend gave you permission to use her paper, or whether the original source is published or unpublished. It doesn't even matter if the source has an author listed or if it is anonymous. If you did not write the paper, but you turn it in with your name on it as if you did write it, you have intentionally plagiarized. This type of plagiarism is easy to identify and understand. In these cases, the student didn't do the work, but decided to behave as if he or she did do the work.

Even if a student does not plagiarize the entire assignment, intentional plagiarism can occur. If the student copies and pastes a paragraph, a sentence, or any content from another written or electronic source with out acknowledging that source, he has intentionally plagiarized.

Other forms of intentional plagiarism occur when a student:

  • invents sources and includes them in the bibliography and/or within the paper.
  • deliberately alters material or bibliographic information by revising the opinion of another writer, inventing fake quotations, or changing the date of a publication.
  • treats unauthored internet sources as common knowledge or "sharable" information that does not require citation.
  • deliberately falsifies data for a lab report.

Thank you to Saint Anselm College for this content - Academic Integrity & Plagiarism Tutorial: Plagiarism

Other types of plagiarism are not completely "intentional" in the same way as the 'intentional' examples. In fact, many cases of plagiarism occur as a result of a student's sloppiness, laziness, or failure to learn how to acknowledge sources.

These types of plagiarism include:

  • quoting a source without acknowledging the author with both quotation marks and a citation.
  • failing to quote the original author accurately.
  • paraphrasing incompletely; that is, relying too heavily on the original author's words.
  • relying too heavily on a source while providing too little acknowledgement.
  • using citations incorrectly or incompletely.
  • providing partial or incorrect bibliographic information.

Unfortunately, if you plagiarize because you don't know how to use quotations or because you have not paraphrased correctly, you still have committed plagiarism. Upholding academic integrity requires attention and effort. If you don't care where you are getting your ideas, or if you don't feel like looking up the correct documentation format, you might end up turning in plagiarized work.

Thank you to Saint Anselm College for this content - Academic Integrity & Plagiarism Tutorial: Plagiarism

"Why You Need to Cite Sources." OLSIS Secondary Videos, Oregon School Library Information System, 4 June 2017.,

OLSIS Citation Creator


Useful Websites

Paraphrasing Infographic

How To Paraphrase Effectively - An Infographic from uCollect Infographics

Embedded from uCollect Infographics

Understanding Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that is accepted and known widely you do not need to cite it:

Facts that can be easily verified. As you are conducting your research on a topic, you will see the same facts repeated over and over.  Example: You are writing a paper on nuclear power . The heat and light of the sun result from nuclear energy. Although you might not have known this fact before your research, you have seen it multiple times and no one ever argues about it.

Facts that you can safely assume your readers know.  Examples: Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii.  Fish breathe using gills. The earth is composed of tectonic plates.

Common sayings or cliches. Examples: Curiosity killed the cat.  Ignorance is bliss.

Not all facts are common knowledge. You will still need to cite:

Facts that surprise you or your reader.  Examples: The theory of plate tectonics gained widespread acceptance only in the late 1960s to early 1970s. (Lerner 3139)

Facts that include statistics or other numbers. Example: The two largest recorded earthquakes were the magnitude 9.5 Chilean earthquake of 1956 and the magnitude 9.2 Prince William Sound, Alaska, earthquake of 1964 (Hanneberg 1324)

If you use the exact words of another writer, even if the content within could be considered common knowledge. Example: The United States Geological Survey estimates that more than three million earthquakes occur on Earth each year. (Hanneberg 1323)

Common knowledge can be course-specific.  For example, the number of bones in the leg could be considered common knowledge in biology course.  But if you are using that fact in an English paper, you cannot assume your teacher would have that knowledge, and you would need to cite it.

Information used with permission from Iolani Libraries -

Garofalo, MLIS, Vanessa. How to Avoid Plagiarism in 5 Easy Steps., uploaded by Steelman Library, 17 Aug. 2017,

DeLaplante, Kevin. How to Cite Sources and Avoid Plagiarism.


Self-Check (credit to St. Paul's High School - Canada)