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Resources to Understand and Avoid Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism:


1. Use quotation marks around an author's exact words and include a citation for the source.   Using quotation marks around direct quotes when taking notes will help to ensure that they are treated as quotes in the final paper or project..

2. Paraphrase (put someone else's ideas in your own words), but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words.

Instead, read over what you want to paraphrase carefully; cover up the text with your hand, or close the text so you can’t see any of it (and so aren’t tempted to use the text as a “guide”). Write out the idea in your own words without peeking.

3. Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate.

4.  The source of any  visual information or graphics from a WWW site (or from a printed source) must be cited.

5. Document your sources using a standard citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.)  


What is Considered Common Knowledge?

Common knowledge: facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be known by a lot of people.

Example: John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States in 1960.

This is generally known information. You do not need to document this fact.

However, you must document facts that are not generally known and ideas that interpret facts.

Example: According to the American Family Leave Coalition’s new book, Family Issues and Congress, President Bush’s relationship with Congress has hindered family leave legislation (6).

The idea that “Bush’s relationship with Congress has hindered family leave legislation” is not a fact but an interpretation; consequently, you need to cite your source.



Adapted from Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Tools for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Turnitin is available through Canvas.
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