Avoiding Plagiarism


Strategies to avoid plagiarism Bibliography / Works Cited Guide
Sample academic honesty policy Online Resources

“Cheating undermines the academic process, shatters students' integrity, and destroys the trust necessary for productive relationships and our goal of excellence.”
~ Patrick Henry High School Academic Honesty Policy


“When you use source material in your research paper, you must be sure that your reader knows which words and ideas are yours and which are someone else's. Plagiarism is using another writer's words or ideas without acknowledgment. Plagiarism is stealing, and people who plagiarize the work of others have no defense…

How much of another writer's work can you borrow without acknowledgment? None. Using one clause [phrase] from another writer's work is plagiarism. Rearranging the clauses [phrases] of another writer's sentences is still plagiarism. Substituting a few words of your own in another writer's sentence is still plagiarism.”
~Houghton Mifflin The Pocket Writer

Strategies you can use to avoid plagiarism:

  1. Don't think of your report as “rearranging” or “changing” words and sentences or “adding” your own ideas. You need to find the most important facts, then start from scratch and explain them in your own way.
  2. Imagine that you have been asked to explain your topic to a third grader. How would you pick out the most important pieces of information and explain it in a way he/she could understand? It may help you to actually explain it out loud to somebody, then write down your ideas.
  3. Use a note taking method. There are lots to choose from. Here are just a few you might try:

    Question/Answer Chart  
    Four-Column Chart  
    Notetaking methods explained  
  4. Put ideas in your own words as you take notes. That means don't just “rearrange and change” what the author said. Don't write down words you don't understand. Use a dictionary to look up the meanings of unfamiliar words. Then use your notes as the basis to start from scratch to explain your topic. The idea of starting fresh is much different from “rearranging and changing” words from your source.
  5. Compare your source of information to your written report to check for plagiarism.
  6. It is essential for you to cite your sources correctly, but remember that citing your source doesn't give you permission to use or “rearrange” the author's phrases and sentences.

Online Resources