What is Plagiarism and How Can You Avoid It?


What is plagiarism? Plagiarism means using another person’s words or ideas without giving them credit.

What are some examples of plagiarism?

  • Borrowing a paper that someone else wrote and passing it off as yours
  • Copying and pasting from a website, e-book or book without citing it
  • Turning in work done by your parent or tutor
  • Changing a few words from a quote and not citing it

What kind of information needs to be cited? You should cite the following when you use them in your paper:

  • Another person’s words or ideas
  • Quotes from a book, article, or website
  • Common knowledge (like the capital of a country, or the scientific name of a fruit) does NOT need to be cited

How can you avoid plagiarism?

  • Take good notes! When you are researching, make sure to keep track of which information you get from sources and which ideas are your own.
  • Keep track of your sources! I often start a separate document with links the websites I have used, as well as lists of the books and articles. Make sure to note the page number(s) your information came from–this will help you if you need to find it again.
  • Sites like www.easybib.com can help you create and track citations as you go along.
  • Ask your teacher or librarian if you have any questions about plagiarism and citation

One last tip: Learn the difference between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

  • Quoting: Using the exact words of an author or speaker requires you to put quotes around those words. Any source you quote must also appear in your bibliography.
  • Paraphrasing: Using an idea from an author but putting the idea entirely in your own words. You must be careful not to change the meaning of the author’s words when you paraphrase. You must cite sources you paraphrase and put them in your bibliography.
  • Summarizing: Summarizing is a lot like paraphrasing, but it means taking an author’s idea and making it shorter. Like quotations and paraphrases, summaries must be cited and the author’s work must be included in your bibliography.

Please remember to ask your teacher or a librarian if you have any questions!

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