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DAL Students: Plagiarism

Click here to take the tutorial so you can learn more about what plagiarism is and how to avoid it!

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's words or ideas and claiming them as your own.


Plagiarism is theft and has serious consequences in the academic world as well as in the professional world, so it is important that you understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.  

When you use someone else's words, word for word, and do not use quotations and a citation to identify that these words were either spoken by or written by someone else, this is plagiarism. This is the most blatant form of plagiarism, but there are other practices that also constitute plagiarism.  When you restate in your own words someone else's words or ideas, but do not cite the information or give credit to the person who originally had this thought, this is also considered plagiarism.

Plagiarism is not limited to words.  It is important that you also give credit to artists and photographers for any images that you may utilize in your work, be it included in a research paper or a class presentation.

Did you know that you can also plagiarize yourself?  Recycling your own written material to fulfill the requirements of another class is considered plagiarism.  If you want to expound upon previous research that you have conducted, contact your instructor prior to beginning the assignment to see if you might be able to use your former research as a basis for, not a replacement for, your current assignment.

What are citations and why are they important?

Citations help us to avoid plagiarizing another person's words or ideas.


A citation provides the opportunity for your reader to locate your sources if they would like to learn more about your subject.

A citation proves that the ideas you have are supported by others in the academic community which lends validity to your paper.

A citation notifies the reader of your paper:

Who – who wrote or spoke these words or ideas originally?  Who originally created this picture or graphic?

Where – where (in what source) did you locate these words, ideas or images?

More specifically, to cite a source is to provide your reader with the following information:

Author’s or Creator’s Name

Title of Work

Publication Information (Publisher, Date and Place of Publication)

Page Number(s) if applicable

Medium of Publication

In-text citations are especially important.  It is not enough to simply list at the end of your paper the list of your references.  You must cite the quoted or paraphrased section as soon as it appears in your paper.     

Citations vary depending on citation style which often varies by discipline.  However, some rules remain constant across disciplines:

You should always cite a direct quote or paraphrased passage.

You should always provide either in-text citations, end-notes or footnotes.  Providing only a bibliography or reference page is not acceptable.

Direct Quote

Direct Quote – using someone else's words, word-for-word.


Using someone else's words, word-for-word, is acceptable only if you include quotation marks and citation information.

If you do not use quotations and a citation to identify that these words were either spoken by or written by someone else, you are plagiarizing!

Use direct quotes sparingly and make sure your quotes have purpose. 

When you do choose to include a quote, you should also always include your analysis of the quote. 

Don’t end your paragraph with a quote.  Always add your interpretation of the quote that is of equal or greater value than the original thought.

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing – restating in your own words someone else’s words or ideas. 


Paraphrasing is an effective way to incorporate the thoughts and ideas of others that support your research.  To paraphrase is to put into your own words the thoughts and ideas of others.  Remember, even though these are your own words, since the idea or thought originated from someone else, you must cite your source!

Paraphrasing can be difficult for students because, typically, the original author has stated his or her thoughts so eloquently that we feel incapable of accurately representing the meaning of their words if we change the dictation of their thoughts. However, to fully incorporate other's words, thoughts, and ideas, you must be able to tell in your own words why this idea applies to your research.

Tips for paraphrasing:

Being able to properly paraphrase requires having a firm grasp of your topic.  To avoid inadequate paraphrasing, make sure you understand what you are reading and/or researching.  This may require speaking with your professor about the text or it may be as simple as making sure you are reading enough of the text to truly comprehend what the author is discussing.

Paraphrasing means to put an idea into your own words, which will include incorporating your own syntax.  Changing only the words of the original text and not the sentence structure is not true paraphrasing. 

Some ways to avoid improper paraphrasing:

Avoid copying and pasting information into your paper unless you plan to use the text as a direct quote.  Remember, direct quotes should be used sparingly and with purpose.

Avoid looking directly at the original source text when writing your paper.

It is better to read the original text, lay it out of eyesight and then try to explain in your own words what you just read. 

Think of paraphrasing as a phone call to a friend.  Your friends don’t want you to read your textbook to them, they want to hear in your own words what you have been studying.  Try to explain it to them; this is paraphrasing.