Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ITE-115: Virtual Library Instruction: 5. Avoid Plagiarism


What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using another person’s ideas or words without clearly acknowledging or citing the source of that information. You must give credit whenever you use:

  • Another person's idea, opinion, or theory.
  • Direct quotes from another person's actual spoken or written words.
  • Paraphrasing of another person's spoken or written words.
  • Any piece of information this is not common knowledge (e.g., fact, figure, statistic, chart)
  • Multimedia created by another person (e.g., photo, drawing, film clip, music, etc.)

Why should I cite my sources?

The primary reason to cite your sources is to avoid plagiarism and give proper credit to the original author or creator.  Other reasons for citing your sources:

  • Enables a reader to locate the sources you cited.
  • Demonstrates the accuracy and reliability of your information.
  • Shows the amount of research you’ve done.
  • Strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism - The Basic Rules

  • Make sure to place direct quotes from another person in quotation marks. This is especially important to remember when you are taking notes from any source you use.  Make sure to copy the words exactly as they appear in the source.

  • When you paraphrase, be sure you are not just changing or rearranging a few words.  Carefully read over the text you want to paraphrase.  Write out the idea in your own words.  Check your paraphrase against the original text to make sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words.

  • Make sure to include complete and correct citations in your works cited list.

  • Make sure to follow the guidelines and rules for the citation style specified by your instructor (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

  • In the beginning of the first sentence containing a quote or paraphrase of another’s work, make it clear that it is someone else’s idea  (e.g., According to Smith . . . )

  • Make sure to include in-text citations within your paper for any information taken from another person’s work.  A typical in-text citation includes the author's last name and the page number of the source.  The in-text citation is inserted at the end of the last sentence containing a quote or paraphrase of another’s work - example: (Jones, 127).  Check with your instructor or a librarian for other in-text citation examples.

More Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism - Managing Your Research

  • Start your research early.

  • Take and keep accurate notes of the sources you use.  Distinguish between your ideas and other’s ideas and direct quotes.

  • Document your sources immediately.  As you gather sources during your research, make sure to record all the information you need to cite your sources accurately and completely (e.g., authors, titles, URL addresses, etc.).  Check with your instructor or a librarian to see what citation information is required for the citation style you will be using (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago)

  • Books:  When using the library catalog to find books, print out the catalog records of any books you may use for your paper.  Catalog records provide brief information on books including the author/s, title, publisher, and publication date.  You can also photocopy the title and copyright pages from any book you use for your paper.  Note the page numbers you need to cite.

  • Journal, Magazine, & Newspaper Articles:  Keep an online or paper copy of the articles you will use for your paper.  If you use an article from a library database, you will need to include the database information in your citation.  The information you need to include from the database will depend on the format style specified by your instructor.  Many library databases have a citation tool that automatically generates a citation in the format you specify.  These citation tools are a good starting point for formatting your references but you may still need to “tweak” them according to your instructor’s specifications. 

  • Web Sites:  Keep an online or paper copy of the web pages you use for your paper.  Make sure to record the URL address of the exact page on the web site that is used.