Below are some useful guidelines to help you avoid plagiarism and show academic honesty in your work:
- Quotes: If you quote another work directly in your work, cite your source.
- Paraphrase: If put someone else’s idea into your own words, you still need to cite the author.
- Visual Materials: If you cite statistics, graphs, or charts from a study, cite the source. Keep in mind that if you didn’t do the original research, then you need to credit the person(s) or institution, etc. that did.
The easiest way to make sure you don’t accidentally plagiarize someone else’s work is by taking careful notes as you research. If you are doing research on the Web, be sure to copy and paste the links into your notes so can keep track of the sites you’re visiting. Be sure to list all the sources you consult.
There are many handy online tools to help you create and track references as you go. For example, you can try using Son of Citation Machine. Keeping careful notes will not only help you avoid inadvertent plagiarism; it will also help you if you need to return to a source later (to check or get more information). If you use citation tools like Son of Citation, be sure to check the accuracy of the citations before you submit your assignment.
Lastly, if you’re in doubt about whether something constitutes plagiarism, cite the source or leave the material out. Better still, ask for help. Most colleges have a writing center, a tutoring center, and a library where students can get help with their writing. Taking the time to seek advice is better than getting in trouble for not attributing your sources. Be honest about your ideas, and give credit where it’s due.
Consequences of Plagiarism
In the academic world, plagiarism by students is usually considered a very serious offense that can result in punishments such as a failing grade on the particular assignment, the entire course, or even being expelled from the institution. Individual instructors and courses may have their own policies regarding academic honesty and plagiarism; statements of these can usually be found in the course syllabus or online course description.