Article - Plagiarism Guide:

Internet Resources on Citing: The Trademark of a Good Writer - submitted by our friend Cheryl

Plagiarism is a very serious offense. Not only could it cause a student to fail a paper or even a class, but it is also against the law. Most students know that blatantly copying someone else's words or work is wrong. However, students often plagiarize without intending to. Unintentional plagiarism is just as problematic as intentional copying, so understanding the rules is essential to protecting yourself from making a mistake.

To begin the process of understanding plagiarism, visit these helpful resources:

Educational Tips on Plagiarism Prevention

Why Students Plagiarize

Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism

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Confusion about Proper Citation

One of the most common types of unintentional plagiarism occurs because a student does not know how to properly cite a source. You will need to find out from your professor what type of citation is required for the class. There are three basic citation formats: MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. Most college courses require APA or MLA formats.

APA refers to the American Psychological Association, and is most commonly used for medical and educational papers. MLA stands for the Modern Language Association and is commonly used for non-academic papers, such as history and science papers. The differences between MLA and APA can be confusing, so be sure to understand the format that is required before you begin the paper. To see the different citation styles side by side, visit this citation guide. This guide shows how to cite quotations correctly in each style.

Confusion About Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing the works of someone else is considered plagiarism. This is because the written work and the idea is the intellectual property of the owner. Paraphrasing is fine in your research papers, as long as the paraphrased section is properly cited. The problem with this is that 'common knowledge' facts, which can be used freely, are sometimes hard to identify. If you are unsure about whether or not a particular idea is common knowledge, go ahead and cite it.

Creating a Proper Bibliography Page

When you are done with your paper, be sure to create a proper bibliography page that shows the details of the works you used in your research. Each style has its own format for these pages. In MLA, the bibliography page is called a works cited page, and this page from Purdue University shows how to properly format one. If you are writing in APA style, use this format. For Chicago style documents, follow this format.

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Citing Online Sources

If the information you are using for your paper comes from an online source, you still have to cite it and include it in your bibliography. Even though the information is in a more public format, it still belongs to the original author, and paraphrasing or copying it is considered plagiarism. This page shows how to properly document online sources for both APA, Chicago, and MLA formats.

Plagiarism is serious, and it can be easy to mistakenly break the law. Take good notes as you research, citing all of the sources where ideas or words come from. This will help you properly credit the original author as you write your piece.

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