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Using Sources: What is Plagiarism?

This research guide provides a brief introduction to citing sources.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism can be avoided by accurately and consistently citing your sources. The following short video provides an introduction to how you can establish a consistent approach to saving and capturing your research sources.

Some additional examples and discussion of plagiarism are included after the video.

What is plagiarism and why should I care?

Plagiarism is a form of Academic Dishonesty; any conduct that undermines the academic integrity of Liberty University and includes, but is not limited to, academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and falsification. All such conduct is a violation of the Student Honor Code. This also includes self-plagiarism which is the re-use of one's own materials from a previous assignment or class without attribution or attempting to pass off those materials as new works, unique to that class or assignment.

The Liberty Way defines plagiarism as follows:
"Plagiarism is the failure to give attribution to the words, ideas or information of others on papers, projects or any assignment prepared for a course. It includes, but is not limited to . . .

  •  omitting quotation marks or other conventional markings around material quoted from any source;
  •  paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting a passage from a source without referencing the source;
  •  purchasing or acquiring material of any kind and representing it as one’s own work; and
  •  replicating another person’s work and submitting it as one’s own work.."

Types of Plagiarism

1. Omitting Quotation Marks

Example 1:  Obvious Plagiarism
A student quotes directly from a source without setting the quotation off with proper punctuation (“”) and without giving credit in a parenthetical citation. ALWAYS give credit where credit is due!

Example 2:  Less Obvious Plagiarism
A student remembers to mark all his or her longer quotations, but he or she forgets that quotations of only a few words also require quotation marks. A specific phrase that clearly comes from a particular source (i.e., “crucified with Christ” ALWAYS needs quotation marks).

Example 3:  Hidden Plagiarism
A student quotes directly from a source but, thinking that he/she has simply paraphrased, only sets off the source with a parenthetical citation. Even if you think you’ve put everything in your own words, go back and check to make sure you didn’t use any exact phrases. Missing quotations marks constitute plagiarism!

2. Paraphrasing Specific Passages

Example 1:  Obvious Plagiarism
A student summarizes a key argument that can be traced to a few specific passages but forgets to use an in-text citation.
If in doubt, ALWAYS use an in-text citation.  Simply having a source on your bibliography is not good enough.

Example 2:  Less Obvious Plagiarism
A student thinks he is summarizing a whole source, but he actually refers only to the introduction, which contains the main arguments. After you have written your summary, look back at the source and make sure you have not echoed any language or sequence of sentences unknowingly.  If you have, include an in-text citation.

Example 3:  Hidden Plagiarism
A student remembers hearing a specific phrase some time in the past and thinks it would fit well in the paper. In this case, Google the phrase: if it draws thousands of hits, it’s probably just a common expression.  If Google sends you to a particular source or set of sources, though, you need to cite it.

3. Using Someone Else's Work

Example 1:  Obvious Plagiarism
A student turns in a paper written by someone else. He downloads a paper from the Internet and takes credit for it.
If you did not write your WHOLE PAPER yourself, and if every source is not acknowledged and documented, you are plagiarizing.

Example 2: Less Obvious Plagiarism
A student’s classmate makes some intelligent comments on the discussion board that he wants to explore further.  He accidentally uses his classmate’s ideas and passes them off as his own. For every thought you have, ask yourself where it came from.  If you can trace a source, you need to cite that source.

Example 3: Hidden Plagiarism
A student asks a classmate to look over a paper he wrote.  He rewrites his sentences exactly as the classmate suggests.
Do NOT let a classmate, spouse, or friend rewrite your papers under any circumstances.  Instead, see the LU Writing Center for extensive writing assistance.