Skip to Main Content

FS 510 Library Research Guide

Dr. Thuy N. Bernhard . FS 510 - Functional Foods & Health

Self-Guided Plagiarism Tutorial

The following self-guided tutorial will assist you with understanding the various forms of plagiarism:

Common and Uncommon Forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of taking the work, opinion, or idea of another person and passing it off as your own.

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.


Why is this important?
• Each person deserves the financial rewards and the recognition that their intellectual creation can bring (e.g. Money, promotions, esteem)
• Such protections help foster further creativity
*Understanding this process also protects from failing projects, harmed reputations, and in some circumstances litigation and liability.


So let's look at some of the common, and uncommon, forms of plagiarism. 

Copying a researcher's work (large or small).
This can mean stealing an entire paper, or copying and pasting a sentence.

Plagiarism can also occur when you change a few words or phrases while retaining the essential content or meaning of the source (without properly citing that source).

Plagiarism also occurs when you don't properly put quotation marks around a direct quote.

You can also plagiarize yourself! For example, if you turned in a paper for another class or project, and then re-used some of those ideas, opinions, and/or text without citing yourself that would be plagiarism. 


Copying another researcher's idea (large or small) and not citing it (or not citing it correctly).
If you take the idea of another researcher and utilize it in your paper, no matter how insignificant, you must cite that researcher. If you are using an opinion or idea that you did not create, you must cite it. When you are citing, ask yourself is this common knowledge or did I have to look it up?

If you had to look it up you need to cite it.

Furthermore, plagiarism can occur by improperly citing a resource. For example, if you improperly cited a research publication, author, or other important information, this would be a type of plagiarism. 


Having improper or misleading citations
Plagiarism can also occur by failing to cite appropriate resources or quotes that you have used or incorrectly citing those sources. Here are some different types of source-based plagiarism.

  • A researcher cites a reference source that is incorrect, or completely fabricated.
  • A researcher uses a secondary source of information, but only cites the primary source. For example, if you are citing a research article that is a review of relevant literature (e.g a secondary source), you must cite both research articles if you are utilizing information that you learned from both papers.
  • Data misrepresentation and falsification are also forms of plagiarism. This can include changing or omitting data to give a misleading impression.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism can lead to failed projects in school, damaged reputations, the loss of grant and research money, and being removed from a job. That said, with a little knowledge, you can avoid such pitfalls.

Here are some tips to avoid plagiarism. 

Tip 1: Cite sources and make sure your citations are accurate. When in doubt, cite. Also ask your instructor or a librarian for assistance when needed.

Tip 2: Keep your citations organized. Staying organized can go a long way in avoiding citations. There are free citation management applications that can assist you with keeping organized. For example, Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote all offer citation management assistance. Click this link to learn more about citation management applications.

Tip 3: Never copy and paste the work of someone else into your paper with the expectation that you'll fix it or properly cite it at a later time. Many esteemed researchers and writers have fallen into this trap, forgotten to edit their paper later, and found themselves embroiled in a plagiarism scandal. 

Tip 4: Do not read the summary of a research article via a secondary source and than cite the original article as if you read it. For example, if you find a researcher talking about a research article, such as in a literature review section, do not cite that original article until you have read and evaluated it. The same goes with data sets. 

Tip 5: Proofread your paper. Ask yourself:

  • Are my citations consistent? Do they adhere to the citation format that I'm using (such as APA)?
  • Is the idea or opinion that I'm presenting my own or is it something that I read elsewhere?
  • Is every in-text citation included in the Reference Section?
  • Did I thoroughly read the assignment?

Tip 6: Cite everything, not just research. For example, if you are using images, multimedia, charts, and data you must cite that as well.


Plagiarism Rules to Live By

Plagiarism comes in many forms and can be intentional or unintentional. Regardless of intention, plagiarism can result in research being misrepresented and careers being damaged. 

Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the many types of plagiarism. You should not let a fear of committing plagiarism hinder your work though. Simply educate yourself and make sure you ask questions if you have them. The Librarians at WSU are knowledgeable about the different forms of plagiarism and how they can be avoided.

Rules for Understanding Plagiarism:

Rule 1: Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. Intent does not matter in plagiarism. Sloppiness or ignorance is an unacceptable excuse for plagiarism. This is especially true at the higher levels of research.

Rule 2: There are many types of plagiarism. This can span from egregious instances of copying the work of someone else to simply forgetting to credit a researcher with an idea, to forgetting to put a citation in your reference section, or quotations around the words of someone else.

Rule 3: Most forms of plagiarism can be avoided by properly citing a resource or an idea. When in doubt, talk to your instructor or a librarian.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us