Plagiarism, the act of using someone else's work or words and presenting them as your own, is considered the foremost academic sin.
Students caught plagiarizing, whether they meant to or not, can suffer serious consequences. Instructors now use tools like Turnitin.com to check students' work for plagiarism. Students may be given a failing grade in the class or even expelled from college.
The illustration on the right outlines how to know when to give credit to sources so you can avoid plagiarizing them.
Three simple ways to give credit clearly to sources you use in a paper are to use:
Examples are in bold letters.
Simply putting quotation marks around a writer's words exactly as they were published is the simplest and surest way to credit your source. Below is an example of how to use quotation marks:
As Te-Nehisi Coates wrote in Between The World and Me, “You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”
An indented "block" is used for quotes of four or more lines without quotation marks. Below is an example of an author's words placed in a block quote:
As Ta-Nehisi writes in Between the World and Me:
So you must wake up every morning knowing that no promise is unbreakable, least of all the promise of waking up at all. This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.
To paraphrase means to include someone else's thoughts or ideas in your writing and to give credit to that author. Below is an example of paraphrasing what Coates wrote comparing classroom to libraries:
Coates wrote he preferred libraries to classrooms because he felt he was free to choose what he studied in the library.
Scholarly vs. popular sources
Instructors asking you to use credible sources may also use Turnitin.com to evaluate your citations to see whether you use scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed, or popular. See the box below to determine whether a source is "scholarly" or "popular."