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Citation Guide

Discover and explore the basics of why and how to cite.

What is Plagiarism?    Photo of key reading "Do Not Duplicate"

Anyone who has written or graded a paper knows that plagiarism is not always a black and white issue. The boundary between plagiarism and research is often unclear. Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

But can words and ideas really be stolen?

According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

This information has been freely provided by plagiarism.org and can be reproduced without the need to obtain any further permission as long as the URL of the original article/information is cited.

What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved October 19, 2009, from <http://www.plagiarism.org/plagiarism-101/what-is-plagiarism>

Help with Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing Tips

"But if I change a few words that's paraphrasing - right?"

It is extremely important to note that changing a few words from an original source does NOT qualify as paraphrasing. A paraphrase must make significant changes in the style and voice of the original while retaining the essential ideas. If you change the ideas, then you are not paraphrasing -- you are misrepresenting the ideas of the original, which could lead to serious trouble.

Paraphrasing can be a difficult task. It is more than substituting a few words or terms. The University of Maine Farmington has a helpful 4-step guide to assist students with developing skills for paraphrasing.

This information has been freely provided by plagiarism.org and can be reproduced without the need to obtain any further permission as long as the URL of the original article/information is cited.

What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved October 19, 2009, from <http://www.plagiarism.org/plagiarism-101/glossary/>

Avoiding Plagiarism

The Best Way to Prevent Plagiarism is to Properly Cite Sources.

To Learn More See: Guide to preventing plagiarism from Accredited Schools Online

It's No Joke

 

Clipart of thief

 

Gaslight Student Handbook: Academic Conduct Appendix B

Chat with a Librarian!

If you are experiencing problems with our guides, please contact Janet S. Ward, jward@limestone.edu, Associate Professor and Web Services Librarian.