Definite don’ts

  • copying and pasting complete papers from electronic sources
  • copying and pasting passages from electronic sources without placing the passages in quotes and properly citing the source
  • having others write complete papers or portions of papers for you
  • summarizing ideas without citing their source
  • pulling out quotes from sources without putting quotation marks around the passages
  • closely paraphrasing – not putting the information in your own words (even if it’s cited)
  • quoting statistics without naming the source ­ unless you gathered the data yourself
  • using words and passages you don’t understand and can’t explain
  • self-plagiarizing – using one paper for more than one class without the permission of your professors
  • making up sources
  • making up bibliographic or citation information (page numbers, etc.)
  • using photographs, video, or audio without permission or acknowledgment
  • translating from one language to another without properly citing the original source
  • copying computer programs or other technical information without acknowledgment
  • failing to acknowledge sources of oral presentation, slides, or Web projects
  • failing to acknowledge sources of elements of nonverbal work: painting, dance, musical composition, mathematical proof

Is plagiarism hard to avoid?

Sometimes plagiarism can seem difficult to avoid. After all, there are only so many ways to state an idea, right? And in some cultures, students are discouraged from contributing to the conversations of experts. In those environments, students must learn what others have said, not comment.

Sometimes scholars disagree on what exactly constitutes plagiarism. For example, the University of Maine at Farmington Academic Integrity Code prohibits duplicate work, described as “Submitting a paper or other project in more than one course without the permission of the instructors. Students are expected to produce original work for each course. A student should not submit identical or substantially similar papers or projects in two different courses (in the same or different semesters) unless both instructors have given their permission.”

Close paraphrasing is also prohibited by the code: “When paraphrasing (presenting another person’s ideas or information in one’s own words), one must find truly one’s own way of expressing the original meaning. Simply inserting synonyms into the source’s sentence structures is plagiarism.”

In rare academic settings, students may be allowed to submit duplicate work or provide close paraphrases. Make sure you know the rules.

How do I avoid being accused?

If you are worried about being accused of plagiarism, your best defense is to do your own work, keep careful track of your sources and notes, understand everything you have written, and acknowledge those who contribute to your work. Giving credit to sources is not an afterthought; it is at the core of academic life. Become familiar with the Academic Integrity Code. To help you avoid plagiarizing, continue looking over this tutorial website.