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Research Assistance: Plagarism

What is plagiarism?

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism means using someone else's work without giving them credit.

How do I know when to give credit?

In your writing, you must give credit whenever you use information that you found in a source, unless it is common knowledge (see below). Always give your source for:

  • Quotations (exact words)
  • Paraphrased information
  • Summarized information
  • Facts that are not common knowledge
  • Ideas, including opinions and thoughts about what particular facts mean
  • Maps, charts, graphs, data, and other visual or statistical information

What is common knowledge?

Common knowledge is information that is widely available. If you saw the same fact repeated in most of your sources, and if your reader is likely to already know this fact, it is probably common knowledge. For example, the fact that Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008 is common knowledge.

Read more: Plagiarism | AND

Tips regarding Plagiarism

How do I avoid plagiarism?

It is easy to avoid plagiarism if you always cite the sources you use. Citing sources not only gives the appropriate credit to the original creator of the work but it also allows those reading your work to refer back to the sources you consulted.

The format of your citations, as well as the precise information that needs to be included in each citation, is governed by specific rules outlined in style manuals. Consult the Citation Styles LibGuide (coming soon) to find out more.

Additional Resources include:

Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism

 Start by Educating Students

  • Provide an explicit definition (see example above).
  • Explain why it's wrong. (It shows disrespect for the creators of ideas. Students are cheating themselves by losing an opportunity to develop useful skills - writing, thinking, analyzing, organizing).
  • Note the benefits of citing.
  • Make the penalties clear.
  • View some of the excellent tutorials available on the web.  Some of these have assessments or final documents that students can print to show you that they have completed the tutorial.

Preemptive Strategies

  • Create a learning environment where investigation and analysis are valued.
  • Discuss problems students may encounter in the research/writing process and offer methods for dealing with them.
  • Give students time to explore their topics thoroughly
  • Require process steps (topic, preliminary bibliography, rough draft, final annotated bibliography, final draft)
  • Support each step of the process (how to refine a topic, how to evaluate sources, planning guides, in-class activities, portfolios, annotated photocopies, reflective progress reports)
  • Provide list of specific topics to choose from
  • Use unusual topics or topics with a twist
  • Change topics regularly
  • Require specific components (specific mix of sources, one or more sources from past year, one or more sources that you specify, personal interview)
  • Require an annotated bibliography (summary, location, evaluation of usefulness/credibility)
  • Require oral reports of papers or a one-on-one office meeting
  • Require an in-class essay on what they learned from the assignment, problems encountered, research strategy used
  • Tell students that you will randomly check sources in bibliography
  • Have students hand in a copy of sources used.

Responsibilities of Students and Faculty

  • Student Responsibilities

    • Incorporate a balance of previous works, with proper citation, and your analysis in papers and projects
    • Cite the works of others; always give credit where credit is due
    • Evaluate included works; do not copy
    • Take good notes when conducting research including the information necessary to appropriately credit others
    • Remember that each assignment is a learning process and the purpose is to reflect your work

    Faculty Responsibilities

    • Define the purpose of each assignment and include clear expectations
    • Identify the grading criteria for the assignment 
    • Explain plagiarism and the consequences of using the work of others without credit
    • Emphasize that when using words or ideas appropriate credit must be given
    • Clarify that students are expected to produce thoughtful, original work reflecting inquiry, research, and analysis
    • Indicate when plagiarism software will be used by faculty and/or students
    • Utilize drafts, outlines, introductions, descriptions of research, and oral presentations to help reduce plagiarism
    • Support the student throughout the assignment including research, writing, and analytic phases