|LEO: Literacy Education Online|
When writers intentionally or unintentionally present another person's words, ideas, or work as their own, they are committing plagiarism. Most students know that passing off another individual's paper as their own is plagiarism. However, fewer students understand that accidentally including someone else's sentence in their writing without quotation marks and a reference is plagiarism, too.
For several important reasons, you must reference the original work and author in your writing whenever you:
And finally, neglecting to correctly acknowledge material from outside sources in your writing is plagiarism--a violation of St. Cloud State University's Code of Conduct that can result in serious academic consequences. In some cases, plagiarism can have legal consequences as well.
The following suggestions may help you avoid plagiarism:
In addition to knowing the rules for documenting outside sources, you must also understand how to effectively integrate outside source material in your writing. If you have questions about, paraphrasing, quoting, or other ways to use outside sources, visit the Write Place to pick up handouts or schedule an appointment for one-on-one assistance. You might also speak to your professor or purchase a writing handbook that includes advice, explanations, and examples.
Start researching your topic right away and carry a notebook or paper with you so you can jot down your ideas and notes about how to support your ideas with information from your sources. That way, if your mind goes blank when you sit down at a computer, you'll have material to draw from, and the desire to copy someone else's words, ideas, or work will seem less tempting.
Remember, too, that your professors are in the business of words, ideas, and people. They'll most likely notice the change in your writing if you copy from an outside source without referencing it. Moreover, by talking with you about your topic, they'll probably discover when you've tried to present someone else's ideas as your own. In addition, if you've copied part or all of your paper from the Internet, your professors will easily be able to locate the original text by using an Internet search engine.
In addition, if you've quoted or paraphrased an outside source, carefully record which source the material comes from and all the information needed for referencing that source. You won't want to try to retrace your path to an Internet site or run back to the library the night before your paper is due just because you forgot to write down the necessary information the first time. As you research, you may even want to build a numbered list of all the sources you encounter and then number your notes from each source accordingly. However, no one right way exists for taking notes about research, so develop a system that works for you. The Write Place has handouts about note taking that may help get you started.
Last update: 26 May 2004