Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

One definition of plagiarism is:
"To use another person's ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is to plagiarize. Plagiarism, then, constitutes intellectual theft and often carries severe penalties, ranging from failure in a course to expulsion from school." [MLA (Modern Language Association), from the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th ed.]
Note: More information about plagiarism is contained in Module 7: ETHICS 

You can avoid charges of plagiarism by following some essential guidelines in researching and writing your research paper:

  • Always start by stating your own research question or thesis or by restating your assignment clearly and completely in your own words.
  • Keep accurate records of the sources you use, noting all the pertinent information about each source and whether you have quoted from it, summarized it, paraphrased it, or commented on it.
  • Clearly understand how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize information you borrow and understand how to integrate this information in your paper.
  • If you don’t understand the source material, don’t use it in your paper.
  • Find out which style guide you should use and use it consistently.
  • Review your final written paper looking for changes in your writing style or thinking that might signal that you are using a borrowed source.

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