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Citing Sources: Avoiding plagiarism

This guide is to help Castleton students understand the process of documenting research for college assignments

Plagiarism: How to Avoid It

Basic intro to plagiarism

From the Castleton University Handbook

Excerpt from Castleton's academic honesty policy in the University Handbook 2017-2018 relevant to using sources:

"Definitions of Infractions: The following list is intended to illustrate the types of behaviors that are considered academically dishonest at Castleton. It is only a partial list; other behaviors may, as well, violate the basic principles of academic honesty.

         A. Plagiarizing in any form. Plagiarism is stealing. Castleton University defines plagiarism as the act of submitting someone else’s work, words, or ideas (in part or in whole) as if they were one’s own, without proper attribution of credit.

Credit must be attributed to both print and online source materials, including books, periodicals, articles, video, music, and images. The Internet has become a powerful research tool, but students should note that its power also has a double effect: the Internet makes committing and detecting and proving plagiarism much easier.

Additionally, Castleton makes no distinction in the definition of plagiarism on the basis of a student’s intent. Students are responsible for taking pains to familiarize themselves with the citation standards and practices in their respective disciplines and courses to avoid plagiarizing.

Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • using a source’s exact words without putting those words in quotation marks-this is plagiarism whether or not there is a note attributing the material to a source;
  • putting a source’s exact words in quotes but failing to provide an endnote, footnote, parenthetical note, or other appropriate form of citation indicating the original source;
  • paraphrasing the words of a source but failing to provide an endnote, footnote, parenthetical note, or other appropriate form of citation indicating the original source;
  • splicing together exact phrasing and/or paraphrases from multiple sources but failing to give credit for each element borrowed (“patchwork” or “mosaic” plagiarism);
  • copying and pasting information from a website without correctly citing the Internet source from which the material was taken. The Internet is not public domain;
  • providing only a list of references without properly attributing specific credit for individual quotations or ideas in the body of the text;
  • creating a paraphrase that does not substantially reword the original text-for example, leaving long phrases of the original wording, substituting synonyms for key words but not rephrasing the material, or simply rearranging the original words;
  • receiving excessive critical input from others to the extent that the final text can no longer be viewed as the work primarily of the student submitting it.

    B. Buying, copying/downloading from the Internet, or commissioning term papers, essays, or comparable documents and/or submitting the work of another (including the work of another student) as one’s own. 

    C. Submitting work that had previously been prepared for another course in fulfillment of the requirements of a subsequent course, except when the student has obtained the explicit prior permission of the current instructor to do so.|

    D. Communicating during an examination session with the intent of supplying information to or receiving information from another student.

    E. Receiving aid in taking examinations through such means as crib sheets or supplementary notes (unless expressly permitted by the instructor); through looking at others’ examinations and/or allowing others to look at yours; or through the use of electronic devices such as cell phones, calculators, portable hard drives, PDAs, mp3 players, etc.

    F. Soliciting, obtaining, or providing an examination or portions thereof either prior or subsequent to an examination session, except as authorized by the instructor.

    G. Substituting for another student or allowing a different individual to represent oneself in any context, including but not limited to class meetings, exams, and online discussions.

    H. Knowingly assisting any person committing an act of academic dishonesty.

    I. Altering, changing, or forging University academic records for either oneself or another.

    J. Infringing the rights of other students to fair and equal access to University library materials and other academic resources.

    K. Degrading, erasing, or in any way tampering with the computer assignments or computer files of others.

    L. Attempting to prevent other users from having access to the University’s computers, computer terminals, or other resources, or degrading the performance of computer equipment.

Any student who is unsure whether a particular behavior is permissible under Castleton’s academic honesty policy should consult either the instructor of the course for which the work is being done, the student’s faculty advisor, or the Academic Dean."

You might also consult a librarian, or the Academic Support Center.

Online tutorials on plagiarism

Learn about using sources responsibly

Plagiarism Tutorial from Armstrong Atlantic State University's library, including examples of acceptable and unacceptable uses of citing quotations, examples of acceptable and unacceptable uses of paraphrasing/summarizing  and quizzes on acceptable quoting and acceptable paraphrasing/summarizing

How to Recognize Plagiarism from Indiana University, including examples and practice exercises identifying plagiarized passages

Plagiarism Tutorial from University of Southern Mississippi, includes quizzes with examples of acceptable use vs. plagiarism for using quotations and paraphrasing/summarizing.

Unintentional plagiarism

Learn to use others' ideas and language responsibly

There are many instances of plagiarism that are purposeful and clearly a form of cheating.  However, failing to carefully cite other people's ideas and language in the body of your writing can also be considered plagiarism.  It is important to learn to skillfully give credit to your sources in the body of your writing.  These are the three main ways other people's ideas can be incorporated in your writing and given credit with an in-text citation or a footnote.

A brief explanation of quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing

The Nuts and Bolts of Integrating Sources into your writing, from the Harvard Guide to Using Sources

Includes these sections:

Topic Sentences  |  Framing source material  |  Signal phrases  |  Quoting and grammatical sentences

Ellipses  |  Block Quotations  |  Single vs. double quotation marks  |  Punctuating Quotations  |  Using sic

When you use someone else's language word for word, you indicate this in a quotation.  You must attribute the quote to the original source.

Summarizing is putting
the main ideas of a source in your own wordsSummarized ideas must also be attributed to the original source. 

Putting a passage from a source into your own words is paraphrasing. This also must be attributed to the original source.

A helpful explanation

A book chapter advising students
on using sources responsibly and avoiding plagiarism

"Theft, Fraud, and Loss of Voice"  (PDF)

Hjortshoj, Keith. "Theft, Fraud, and Loss of Voice." In Transition to College Writing. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009.

Plagiarism 2.0: Information Ethics in the Digital Age

Short instructional film about behaviors that constitute plagiarism, their consequences, and the best ways to avoid them

Activities to learn about using sources in your writing

More exercises for learning about using sources in your writing

What is plagiarism from University of Mississippi, includes a quiz with examples of acceptable use vs. plagiarism for using quotations and paraphrasing

Ask a Librarian