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Avoid Plagiarism: How Not to Plagiarize

Incorporating Sources into Your Essay

Tips on Avoiding Plagiarism

Here are some tips for avoiding accidental plagiarism from the WCAS Writing Program at Northwestern University:

  • Cite every piece of information that is not a) the result of your own research, or b) common knowledge. This includes opinions, arguments, and speculations as well as facts, details, figures, and statistics.
  • Use quotation marks every time you use the author's words. (For longer quotes, indenting the whole quotation has the same effect as quotation marks.)
  • At the beginning of the first sentence in which you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, make it clear that what comes next is someone else's idea:
    • According to Smith...
    • Jones says...
    • In his 1987 study, Robinson proved...
  • At the end of the last sentence containing quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material, insert a parenthetical citation to show where the material came from:
    The St. Martin's Handbook defines plagiarism as "the use of someone else's words or ideas as [the writer's] own without crediting the other person" (Lunsford and Connors 602).

    (Notice the use of brackets to mark a change in the wording of the original.)

Tips from the University of North Carolina Writing Center:

You need to cite your source, even if:

  1. you put all direct quotes in quotation marks.
  2. you changed the words used by the author into synonyms.
  3. you completely paraphrased the ideas to which you referred.
  4. your sentence is mostly made up of your own thoughts, but contains a reference to the author's ideas.
  5. you mention the author's name in the sentence.

**The moral of this handout: When in doubt, give a citation**