How do I avoid plagiarism?

Definition of plagiarism

“Plagiarism is the act of using another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source…to plagiarize it to give the impression that you have written or thought something that you have in fact borrowed from someone else.”

This and other quotations used below are all taken from section 1.6 (pages 21-25) of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers by Joseph Gibaldi and Walther S. Achert, 3rd edition. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1988.

Do I have to footnote every fact?

“If you have any doubt about whether or not you are committing plagiarism, cite your source or sources.”

What if I put someone else's ideas in my own words?

“Other forms of plagiarism include repeating someone else’s particularly apt phrase without appropriate acknowledgment, paraphrasing another person’s argument as your own, and presenting another’s line of thinking as though it were your own.”

Examples of plagiarism:

  1. Loose paraphrasing of the author’s words without giving them credit for the ideas
  2. Statistics that are not common knowledge and are not credited
  3. Not using quotation marks around the entire quotation
  4. Taking a passage of four or more words from a source and not giving proper attribution

George Fox University's policy on Academic Honesty

Plagiarism.org gives students and educators information on what defines plagiarism, how to avoid it and special issues concerning the world of electronic resources.

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University is an excellent resource for tips on avoiding plagiarism.


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