How to Avoid Plagiarism

How to Avoid Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism means intentionally or unintentionally using another's words or ideas without giving credit. When using ideas or exact words from another person you must give citations for the source(s), even if those ideas are paraphrased in your own words.

Using words, ideas, computer code, or any work by someone else without giving proper credit is plagiarism. Any time you use information from a source, you must cite it.

Why is Plagiarism Important?

Here are 6 reasons why plagiarism is important.

  1. If you plagiarize, you are cheating yourself. You don't learn to write out your thoughts in your own words,and you don't get specific feedback geared to your individual needs and skills. Plagiarizing a paper is like sending a friend to practice tennis for you - you'll never score an ace yourself!

  2. Plagiarism is dishonest because it misrepresents the work of another as your own.

  3. Plagiarism devalues others' original work. Submitting a professional writer's work as yours is taking an unfair advantage over students who do their own work.

  4. It is wrong to take or use property (an author's work) without giving the owner the value or credit due. Further, copyright violations can result in fines or damages.

  5. UCR's reputation affects the value of your degree; student dishonesty hurts UCR's standing and can make your diploma worth less.

  6. Plagiarism violates the UCR Student Conduct Policy on Academic Dishonesty and can result in Suspension or Dismissal.

How to Avoid Plagiarism?

  • Use your own words and ideas.

    Each time you choose your words, order your thoughts, and convey your ideas, you improve your writing.
  • Give credit for copied, adapted, or paraphrased material.

    If you repeat another's exact words, you MUST use quotation marks and cite the source. even if you adapt a chart or paraphrase a sentence, you must still cite. Paraphrase means that you restate the author's ideas, meaning, and information in your own words (see examples).
  • Avoid using others' work with minor "costmetic" changes.

    Examples of cosmetic changes:
    • Substitute words, such as "less" for "fewer"
    • Reverse the order of a sentence
    • Change terms in a computer code
    • Alter a spread sheet layout
  • There are no "freebies".

    ALWAYS cite words, information, and ideas you use if they are new to you (learned in your research). No matter where you find it -- even in an encyclopedia or on the Internet -- you cite it!
  • Beware of "common knowledge".

    You don't have to cite "common knowledge," BUT the fact must really be commonly known. That Abraham Lincoln was the U.S. President during the Civil War is common knowledge; that over 51,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg4 is not.
  • When in doubt, cite.

    Better to be safe than not give credit when you should!

How to cite correctly?

Here is an example of incorrect and correct use of information.

The Original Source:

"In research writing, sources are cited for two reasons: to alert readers to the sources of your information and to give credit to the writers from whom you have borrowed words and ideas."

Example of Plagiarism (save basic wording)

In research writing, sources are cited to alert readers to the sources of your information and to give credit to the writers from whom you have borrowed words and ideas.

Note: same words, no quotation marks, only a phrase left out

Example of Plagiarism (incorrect paraphrase):

In research writing, we cite sources for a couple reasons: to notify readers of our information sources and give credit to those from whom we have borrowed. (Hacker).

Note: incorrect paraphrase, only slight changes in wording, incomplete citation

Example of a Solution (appropriate paraphrase):

A researcher cites her sources to ensure her audience knows where she got her information, and to recognize and credit the original work. (Hacker, 1995, p. 260).

Note: paraphrased in own words, accurately reflecting and citing the author's ideas

Example of a Different Solution (quotation with cite):

In her book A Writer's Reference, Diana Hacker notes, "In research writing, sources are cited for two reasons: to alert readers to the sources of your information and to give credit to the writers from whom you have borrowed words and ideas." (1995, p. 260).

Note: There are different guidelines and formats for citing sources correctly depending on the class. Below are links for different formats.

How to get help?

Additional resources to help you in writing research papers and citing sources correctly:

Need further help? Please feel free to contact our reference librarians or UCR Learning Center.

Last modified: 7/18/2014 10:34 AM by S. Mandeville-Gamble

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