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.
every year around the world "several thousand earthquakes and dozens of volcanic eruptions occur" which show how changeable earth is.
Block quotes, used for quotes of four or more lines, are indented but use no quotation marks.
In the chapter "Plate tectonics and the ocean floor" we read how:
The interaction of these plates as they move builds features of Earth's crust (such a mountain belts, volcanoes, and ocean basins). For example, the tallest mountain range on Earth is the Himalayan Mountains that extend through India, Nepal, and Bhutan. This mountain range contains rocks that were deposited millions of years ago in a shallow sea, providing testimony of the power and persistence of plate tectonic activity.
Paraphrasing means including someone else's thoughts or ideas and giving credit to that person:
Scientists developed a revolutionary new theory of plate tectonics concerning the outermost portion of the earth.¹ (Trujillo and Thurman, 2014).
Scholarly vs. popular sources
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."
¹ Trujillo, A. P., Thurman, H. V. 2014. Essentials of oceanography. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.