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How to Research: Avoid Plagiarism

Just getting started on a research paper or project? Don't know where to start? This is the guide for you!

Avoid Plagiarism

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources. This means that you have to give credit to the sources that you use for your assignment, usually by using in-text citations and a bibliography. Commonly used citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago.

About Plagiarism . . .

Cartoon used as per Unshelved Reuse Policy

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism means using someone else’s work without giving proper credit.

  • “Work” includes, but is not limited to: written words, art, music, computer programs, information from the Internet, sound recordings, videos, interviews, pictures, graphical data, or statistics.
  • “Giving proper credit” means following the formatting rules of a documentation style. Two commonly used styles are the Modern Languages Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) styles. MLA is commonly used in English, History, and Philosophy. APA style is common in Psychology, the Social Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Nursing. Please note these are not the only styles used. You may be directed to use a different style.

 Why should you be concerned about plagiarism?

  • Plagiarism is dishonest and unethical.
  • Plagiarism violates the Medicine Hat College’s "Academic Regulations and Policies," and can result in failure and/or expulsion.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Poster designed by Madeline Ocampo (http://plagiarism.org/originality-matters-poster-contest)

Avoiding plagiarism:

  • Hand in your own work.
  • Do not hand in another person’s assignment or paper as your own.
  • Learn how to use the required documentation style (APA, MLA, etc.).
  • Use quotation marks to indicate copied words. When you repeat another’s exact words, you must use quotation marks.
  • Give credit to any information that you have put into your own words (paraphrasing). You must give credit to the source of the information.
  • Give credit to any information you acquired through your research. You do not have to give credit to commonly known facts. Whenever in doubt, give credit!

Compiling information and research:

  • Record the information for each source you use in your research as you go. Print, store, or write down this information.
  • Include: author, title, copyright date, place of publication, publisher, and any additional information that is required by the documentation style.
  • Record the location of the information (i.e. name of library database).
  • Take accurate and complete notes. 

Writing the paper:

  • Use your own words and style of writing. Plagiarism can easily occur when you skip the step of note taking and write your paper directly from books and articles. The problem with writing directly from your sources is that it is very difficult to translate into your own words and is very tempting to use original words and parts of sentences. Plagiarism usually occurs when,
    • original words or phrases from a source are used in a sentence
    • the basic sentence structure is kept and some of the words are changed
    • reversing the order of words in a sentence

Take time to review and ask questions:

  • Give yourself lots of time to not only research and write your paper, but to review and proofread your assignment. 
  • Consult with your instructor, Academic Resources Centre staff, or Library Information Desk staff for assistance or clarification.

What is Plagiarism?

A short video from Brock University Library.