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Academic Integrity: Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism in Research?

Plagiarism is the unethical practice of using words or ideas (either planned or accidental) of another author/researcher or your own previous works without proper acknowledgment. Considered a serious academic and intellectual offense, plagiarism can result in highly negative consequences, such as loss of credibility, reputation, expulsion, and paper retractions. 

Examples include, but are not limited to: 

  • Copying information word for word from a source without using quotations marks and giving proper acknowledgment by way of footnotes, endnotes, or intertextual notes. 
  • Paraphrasing or putting into one's words information from a source without proving proper acknowledgment/citation. 

Adapted from: Enago Academy. (2016). How to Avoid Plagiarism in Research Papers.

Giving Credit

The key to avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where it is due. This may be credit for something somebody said, wrote, emailed, drew, or implied. Many professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), have lengthy guidelines for citing sources. 

What Needs to Be Credited?

  • Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, website, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium
  • Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing
  • When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials
  • When you reuse or repost any digital media, including images, audio, video, or other media

Common Knowledge:

Generally speaking, you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources. Additionally, it might be common knowledge if you think the information you're presenting is something your readers will already know, or something that a person could easily find in general reference sources. But when in doubt, cite; if the citation turns out to be unnecessary, your professor or editor will tell you.

When Citing Sources: 

1. Understand the context: restate the idea in your own words rather than copying the text verbatim from another source

2. Quote (correctly)

3. Understand what does and does not need to be cited

4. Manage your citations (in a reference management tool like Zotero or EndNote)

Adapted from: Duke University Libraries. (n.d.). Citing sources.