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Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Tips and tricks to help you maintain your academic integrity

Avoiding Plagiarism

Quoting is taking what someone else has said or written without any changes (spelling mistakes included!) and placing them in quotation marks.  

If you quote someone else's words, you need to make sure your paper includes your own thoughts and conclusions and is not made completely from others' works.  

How do you do this when you are writing about something you know nothing about? You will always need to gather information from different sources and piece together the information to create something new. Assumptions, opinions, and conclusions based on what you've learned are yours. The facts, supporting evidence, and interesting quotes belong to someone else. 

Anything that belongs to someone else must be credited.

To credit information, you will use a citation style, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago - it depends on your class and program. Ask your instructor which one you need to use. 

Paraphrasing is taking someone else's words or ideas and rewriting them in your own words. Paraphrased material does not go in quotation marks but still needs to be credited. 

Paraphrasing involves more than changing a couple words. Here are a couple steps to take when paraphrasing. 

  1. Make sure you completely understand the idea the author is trying to make. This could mean re-reading the section until you understand. 
  2. Make short notes on the main idea. What is the author talking about? Why is it important for your paper/lab report? 
  3. Write an entirely new sentence based on the original work. You will have changed the words and the sentence structure while maintaining the original idea. 
  4. Cite it. 

Original Text: A twinge of fear went through him. It had been a sufficiently rash act to buy the book in the beginning, and he had sworn never to come near the place again. And yet the instant that he allowed his thoughts to wander, his feet had brought him back here of their own accord (Bradbury 97).

Properly paraphrased: The man felt afraid as he found himself at the same store where he had impulsively purchased the book. It was as though his feet had taken over while his thoughts were elsewhere (Bradbury 97).   

Improperly paraphrased: Fear went through the man. It had been a bad idea to buy the book in the first place, and he promised never to come near the place again. As soon as he allowed his thoughts to wander, his feet brought him back of their own accord.

Notice that in the improperly paraphrased example the sentences sound the same, and only a few words are changed. In the properly paraphrased example the ideas are the same, but the sentence structure and the words have all changed.

Any specific terminology and jargon that you cannot change should be placed in quotation marks. 

Summarizing involves writing a shorter version of a main idea from a section or entire work. It involves the same techniques as paraphrasing, but on a larger scale.  You must cite when summarizing.

For example, when you explain the plot of a book or movie to your friends, you are summarizing. It's brief, encompasses the main ideas, but it does not take you longer than a few minutes to explain something that may have taken you hours to watch or read. You can do the same thing with a scholarly article in your paper by describing the main idea (in your own words) in a few sentences.

When you summarize, do the following:

  • reference the original source
  • make sure the text is much shorter than the original
  • use your own words and limit your use of quotations.
Let's play the Plagiarism game!

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