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Plagiarism - What is it and how to avoid it

Avoiding Plagiarism by Citing your Sources

Ideas in words, ideas, pictures, interview, conversations, etc. created by someone else that are presented by you (in any format), need to be documented. Once you take this idea and present it in any medium, be it print, video, audio, etc. you will need to document the source. An exception would be “common knowledge,” meaning something known by most people.

There are usually three ways to present someone else’s original work in your written paper:

  1. Quoting
    A quotation must use the exact words of the source. If the quotation is relatively short (usually fewer than 3 lines or 40 words), those words must be enclosed in quotation marks, with the creator’s information in parentheses ( ), usually at the end of the statement. Longer passages need block quotations.  
  2. Paraphrasing
    By using different wording, but still presenting the same idea, a paraphrase may be created. Usually paraphrasing is used to make the idea more succinct, using fewer words, or to clarify the original concept. Just changing a couple of words in not acceptable paraphrasing.
  3. Summarizing
    Giving the major points of a concept in a briefer format is summarizing. Many of the details are left out, but the main ideas remain.

More about these strategies can be found at  Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing” in Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab website.

Source: BrockLibrary. (2014). When to cite? Retrieved from

Source: WriteCheck Blog. (2017). 3 ways to aviod plagiarism: Summary, paraphrase and quote. Retrieved from