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FS 531 Library Research Guide

A research guide for Dr. Bernhard's FS 531 class

Self-Guided Plagiarism Tutorial

The following self-guided tutorial will help you learn more about plagiarism:


Common and Uncommon Forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of taking the work, opinion, content, or idea of a person or program (e.g. AI)  and either passing it off as your own or not clearly acknowledging the original source.. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional.

Why is this important?

  •  Each person deserves the rewards and the recognition for their intellectual creations
  • Plagiarism protections help foster further creativity
  • Understanding plagiarism protects you from failing grades, accusations of malfeasance, and/or looking sloppy

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

Copying content from another researcher or AI program without properly attributing it
If you take the ideas or content of another person or AI program and utilize it in your paper you must cite the creator. This can include copying just one or two sentences. You can also not utilize the ideas or concepts of another person or program without citing that. The golden rule for citing ideas or opinions is that If you had to look it up then 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 technically occur through sloppy citations or incorrectly citing a source. Here are some different types of source-based plagiarism.

  • A researcher cites the wrong source 
  • A researcher uses a secondary source of information, but only cites the primary source. For example, if you are reading an article and the author cites another study that you also want to cite, you must review that original study and not assume the author that you are reading is summarizing and citing that research correctly.
  • Data misrepresentation and falsification can also be a form of plagiarism. 

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

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 plagiarism. 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 you are borrowing, not just research. For example, if you are using images, multimedia, charts, and data you must cite that as well.

Tip 7: When in doubt, ask a librarian or your instructor.

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