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HUM 115 - Critical Thinking: Avoiding Plagiarism

noun: plagiarism; plural noun: plagiarisms
the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.
synonyms: copying, infringement of copyright, piracy, theft, stealing

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism comes in many forms, from copying and pasting to paraphrasing without citations. It can negatively affect your academic career whether intentional or not. Avoid the consequences by knowing how to recognize and avoid plagiarism in your writing.

Cite Your Work

Allows you to:

  • Give credit to your sources. Be fair to other authors. Ideas or information which you take from another author or source should be acknowledged through your citations.
  • Give yourself credit. When you cite your sources, you show evidence of your own research.
  • Give your reader the opportunity to build on your work. Readers may want to follow-up on some of your source material. A good citation will enable a reader to find this material more easily.

What do you need to cite?

In general:

  • Quoting. Are you quoting two or more consecutive words from a source? Then the original source should be cited and the words or phrase placed in quotes. Use quotes when you want to convey to the reader the language of the original text.
  • Paraphrasing. If an idea or information comes from another source, even if you put it in your own words, you still should credit the source. Be careful when you paraphrase to reflect your own writing style, not the original author.
  • General Knowledge vs. Unfamiliar Knowledge. You do not need to cite material which is accepted common knowledge. You would not have to cite the fact that Big Ben was in London, but you would have to cite little known facts about Big Ben, e.g. dimensions of the tower, who it was named after. If in doubt whether your information is common knowledge or not, cite it.
  • Formats. When we think of citing sources, we usually think of books and articles. However, if you use material from web sites, films, music, laboratory manuals, lecture notes, special application software, graphs, tables, etc… you will also need to cite these sources.