Preventing Plagiarism When Writing
Use the checklist below if you have questions or are concerned about preventing plagiarism.
Planning your paper
- CONSULT WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR
- Have questions about plagiarism? If you can’t find the answers on our site or are unsure about something, you should ask your instructor.
- PLAN YOUR PAPER
- Develop a thesis statement and/or create an outline in which you clearly formulate an argument about the information you find will help establish the boundaries between your ideas and those of your sources.
- TAKE EFFECTIVE NOTES
- To avoid confusion about your sources, try using different colored fonts, pens, or pencils for each one, and make sure you clearly distinguish your own ideas from those you found elsewhere.
- Include page numbers, and make sure that you record bibliographic information or web addresses for every source right away.
Writing your paper
- WHEN IN DOUBT, CITE SOURCES
- If it is unclear whether an idea in your paper really came from you, or whether you got it from somewhere else and just changed it a little, you should always cite your source.
- MAKE IT CLEAR WHO SAID WHAT
- Make sure when you mix your own ideas with those of your sources that you always clearly distinguish them.
- KNOW HOW TO PARAPHRASE
- A paraphrase is a restatement in your own words of someone else’s ideas.
- Changing a few words of the original sentences does NOT make your writing a legitimate paraphrase.
- You must change both the words and the sentence structure of the original, without changing the content. Also, you should keep in mind that paraphrased passages still require citation because the ideas came from another source, even though you are putting them in your own words.
- ANALYZE AND EVALUATE YOUR SOURCES
- For starters, make sure you know the author(s) of the page, where they got their information, and when they wrote it (getting this information is also an important step in avoiding plagiarism!).
- Determine how credible you feel the source is: how well they support their ideas, the quality of the writing, the accuracy of the information provided, etc.
Academic integrity in college and graduate school
- 36% of undergraduates admit to “paraphrasing/copying a few sentences from Internet source without footnoting it.”
24% of graduate students self-report doing the same
- 38% admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from written source without footnoting it.”
25% of graduate students self-report doing the same
- 14% of students admit to “fabricating/falsifying a bibliography”
7% of graduate students self-report doing the same
- 7% self-report copying materials “almost word for word from a written source without citation.”
4% of graduate students self-report doing the same
- 7% self-report “turning in work done by another.”
3% of graduate students self-report doing the same
- 3% report “obtaining a paper from term paper mill.”
2% of graduate students report doing so.