Plagiarism FAQs

Plagiarism FAQs

We encourage you to explore and consult any and all resources that will enrich your understanding of the course subject matter, but at all costs, avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism may be intentional, but occasionally students plagiarize simply because they do not know what plagiarism is or how to avoid it.

The most common form of plagiarism is presenting information from the Internet as one’s own work. Whether or not you change the wording, when you use someone else’s ideas and do not acknowledge it, you are plagiarizing!  Below are frequently asked questions which will help you avoid plagiarism. Read them carefully.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using other people’s words or ideas without giving them credit. It’s pretending that someone else’s work is your own.

So is it OK to use other people’s words or ideas as long as I give them credit?

Yes, but you should use mainly your own words and ideas. As a guideline, make sure your writing is 90 percent your own words and ideas. Use citations for the other 10 percent.

How do I give someone else credit when I use his or her words or ideas?

Usually by providing a citation, which is typically the person’s last name and a page number in parentheses, and a works cited (MLA) or references (APA) page, which shows where you got the other person’s words or ideas. If you don’t know how to do citations or put together a works cited/references page, contact your teacher or look it up. One good source is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

So all I have to do to use someone else’s words or ideas is to provide citation?

Not necessarily. If you use someone else’s exact words, those words must be inside quotation marks. Then you still need to add a citation.

How about if I change the order of the words or use a mixture of my own words and borrowed words?

You still need to use a citation, and any phrases or words that you borrow must be inside quotation marks.

What if I use someone else’s ideas but express them entirely in my own words?

You’re still using someone else’s work, so you need to give credit by using a citation. If it’s not your own original idea, chances are you need to give credit.

What kinds of information do not require citation?

In addition to your own original ideas, commonly known facts do not require a citation. For instance, you can write, “George Washington was the first president”, without providing a citation.