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Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism: Getting Started

About This Guide

This guide brings together a range of resources from a variety of sources regarding what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.  It also includes information about plagiarism detection software.

Key Resources

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is "the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person."¹  Examples of plagiarism include:‚Äč

  • copying someone else's words without using quotation marks and crediting the source it came from;
  • paraphrasing or summarizing someone else's words without citing the source;
  • quoting someone inaccurately;
  • restating someone's original or specialized ideas without citing the source;
  • accidentally or intentionally misrepresenting someone else's words or ideas;
  • citing the wrong source; or
  • pretending someone else's work is your own.

Note: Text isn't the only thing that can be plagiarized. You also must credit the sources of images, graphics, charts, drawings, video, music, etc.²

Self-plagiarism is also a form of plagiarism.   The US Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Research Integrity's section on self-plagiarism states: "In writing, self-plagiarism occurs when authors use their own previously written work or data in a "new" written product without letting the reader know the material has appeared elsewhere" (emphasis added).³

¹ "Plagiarism," Merriam-Webster, accessed September 17. 2015,

² Becki DeMartini, "What is Plagiarism?" Brigham Young University--Hawaii Library, accessed September 17, 2015,

³ "Self Plagiarism," US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity, accessed September 17, 2015,

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