Skip to Main Content

Avoiding Plagiarism Help for Faculty: Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Helpful resources for instructors to help students with proper attribution and avoiding plagiarism.

Advice on How to Avoid Plagiarism

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism by Lori Mardis, Northwest Missouri State University

Using an Author's Exact Words:
  • Use quotation marks around all words copied from a source.
  • Choose to quote an author's exact words when the phrasing is unique or strengthens your argument.
  • Provide a citation for the source of the exact words you used immediately after the quotation (Trivedi and Williams).

Paraphrasing an Author's Words:
  • Paraphrase an author's words by stating his or her ideas in your own words with your own phrasing.
  • Compare your paraphrased writing with the author's exact words to make sure you have not copied phrases or sentences from the author.
  • Provide a citation for the paraphrased ideas immediately after the paraphrased text (Trivedi and Williams).

Borrowing Information:
  • Cite the source when borrowing a figure, graph, map, data, or table from another author's work.
  • The original source must be cited even if the borrowed information is used for different purposes than those intended in the original source.
  • If you organize your ideas in the same fashion in which an author organized his or her ideas, cite the source of the organizational scheme (Trivedi and Williams).

Stating Common Knowledge:        
  • Information that is commonly known by the public or the intended readers of a paper do not need citations for sources (Trivedi and Willaims). Examples of commonly known information are:
    • President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, Texas.
    • Food contains calories and fat.
    • Ulysses S. Grant was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War.
  • Unsure if an idea is common knowledge for the intended readers of your paper? Use caution, cite a source.

Reusing Collaborative Papers:        
  • If two students wrote a paper as a collaborative group or team project, one of the authors cannot submit the paper for another assignment as if it is his or her own paper.
  • Any information borrowed from a paper you wrote collaboratively should include citations for the information borrowed from the original paper.

Plagiarizing Accidentally:
  • It's common knowledge that ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.
  • "Since teachers and administrators may not distinguish between deliberate and accidental plagiarism the heart of avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where credit is due" (Purdue University Online Writing Lab).
  • Check a paper against the wording within the sources to avoid unintended plagiarism.

Documenting the Spoken Word:
  • Information drawn from personal communications, speeches, broadcasts, conversations, interviews and other spoken words must be documented with a citation and/or parenthetical citation (Writing Tutorial Services).
  • Style manuals provide information about citing sources for the spoken word.

Respecting Others:
  • "Respect the intellectual sweat of others. This means giving credit for work that is not your own and ensuring you cite others' works both within, and at the end, of your paper or project" (The Center for Intellectual Property).

Works Cited

Purdue University Online Writing Lab. Avoiding Plagiarism. 2004. OWL at Purdue

       University and Purdue University.  9 Oct. 2004


Trivedi, Lisa and Sharon Williams. Using Sources. 2004. Hamilton College

       Writing Center. 9 Oct. 2004


Writing Tutorial Services. 27 Apr. 2004.  Plagiarism: What It Is and How to

       Recognize and Avoid It. Indiana University. 9 Oct. 2004


Professor & Public Services Librarian

Associate Professor & High Impact Practices Librarian