Plagiarism FAQ

Plagiarism FAQ


Q: “If I cite my source, but cut and paste material from that source without putting it in quotes, is that plagiarism?”

A: YES!! Though it is important to avoid taking credit for others’ ideas, it’s also important to communicate those ideas in your own words so that you aren’t copying their style of expression, either.

Q: “OK then, if I cite my sources, cut and paste material from them, and put it all in quotes, is that plagiarism?”

A: No, but it’s poor writing and will probably earn you a poor grade…

Q: “I cited my sources, used a thesaurus to change some words and my professor STILL busted me for plagiarism; what’s up with that?!”

A: If you paraphrased poorly, that is a form of plagiarism. When in doubt, check with your professor about what an acceptable paraphrase looks like; the goal is to change not just the words, but also the structure of the original writing, all the while preserving your source’s original meaning and intent. The Writing Center and the Reference Librarians are also helpful resources for developing your ability to paraphrase.
Q: “I cited all my sources properly, paraphrased them properly, and earned a good grade on the paper. Can I use that paper again for another assignment if it fits the topic?”

A: Unless your professor explicitly told you that “repurposing” or “recycling” papers would be OK, you should assume that it is NOT OK! The intent of most assignments is to evaluate what you’ve learned in a particular class. Even if the assignment topic LOOKS identical, each professor is usually looking for something specific about your current learning, not what you learned before in a different context.
In short, ALL writers need to give credit to ALL of their sources, digest the thoughts and words of those sources, and represent those thoughts and words in their own language. 

For resources to help you avoid plagiarism see:


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