Skip to main content

Research Assistance

What is plagiarism?

What is plagiarism? How can it be avoided?

Plagiarism means using someone else's work without giving them credit. It is easy to avoid plagiarism if you 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.   

Follow the tips below to help avoid plagiarism: 

  • Incorporate a balance of previous works, with proper citation, and your analysis in papers and projects
  • 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


Formatting Sources 

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 an APA or MLA citation style LibGuide (coming soon) to find out more.

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 | 

Additional Resources

Below are some additional resources for helping avoid plagiarism.