Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's work or words and presenting them as your own and is considered the foremost academic sin. Instructors now use tools like Turnitin.com to check for plagiarism.
The illustration on the left outlines how to avoid plagiarism by using quotation marks around someone else's words, by putting someone else's words in a block quote or by paraphrasing. Below are examples of quotation marks, block quotes, and paraphrasing.
Quotation marks should surround words that are not yours.
Rob's mother "began attending night school to become a qualified kitchen supervisor" in order to earn enough money to send her son to private school.
Block quotes, used for quotes of four or more lines, are indented but use no quotation marks.
Jeff Hobbs outlined Jackie Peace's belief that her son would do well thusly:
Her faith in her son's promise began with his intense interest in books, a passion that could not be taught, not where they lived and not with Jackie's schedule. These books were gateways, not just in abstractions of the mind but in real-world opportunities. They led him to as many school academic squads as he could fit into his schedule....
Paraphrasing means including someone else's thoughts or ideas and giving credit to that person:
Jackie Peace sacrificed time with her son in order to complete training for a higher paying job so she could enroll her son in private school, the author writes. She felt her trust was well-placed because of her son's love of books.¹
¹ Hobbs, J. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. New York: Scribner, 2014.
Instructors asking you to use credible sources may also use Turnitin.com to evaluate your citations to see whether your sources are scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed, or popular. See the box to the right to determine whether a source is "scholarly" or "popular."