The Commons
Plagiarism is one of most serious academic offenses you can commit at college. If you’re caught, it will result (at least) in a zero on the assignment containing the plagiarism, or (at worst) you can be expelled from the school! It doesn’t matter if the plagiarism was intentional or not.

Why is plagiarism so bad? Writers, scientists, inventors etc. all work hard to create new ideas, new knowledge, and new things. If anyone can come along and take their work and pass it off as their own without giving credit where it is due, it’s like stealing their “intellectual property”. Our school and our society depend on honesty and fairness, so rules against plagiarism are universal, strict and are enforced.

Read the 10 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism in Your Papers . Each tip is in one of the drop downs.

Tips reproduced with permission from University of Alberta—OSJA. Videos from the U of A are added here with permission.




1. Understand what Plagiarism is arrow View
Taking and using other people’s ideas, thoughts, pictures, writings, inventions, etc. as your own. If you don’t cite it, it’s assumed to be your own work, even if you just forgot.
2. Understand Paraphrasing arrow View
Put ideas into your own words, without changing the author’s intention, and make sure you give credit with both an in-text citation and an entry in your reference list.
3. Manage Your Time arrow View
Don’t leave your paper until the last minute—rushing can lead to forgotten citations. Start well ahead of the due date so you can do your citations properly.
4. Take Careful Notes arrow View
It’s easy to accidentally plagiarize if you don’t keep accurate notes as you research your paper. Every time you write ANYTHING down, jot down where the idea came from, so you’re ready to cite it later if you do use it.
5. Use Citation Style Guides arrow View
Ask your instructor what style is required (e.g. APA, MLA), and then get the correct style guide from the library. The full guide has examples of almost all the possible sources you could use, from books to websites, even radio shows.
6. Copy and Paste with Caution arrow View
Research on the Internet has made it easy to copy and paste, and then forget to cite. Make it a practice to never copy and paste anything without also copying the URL (web address) and date that you retrieved the information.


7. Understand Common Knowledge arrow View
You don’t have to cite “common knowledge”, but what’s “common”? If you read the information somewhere, cite it.
8. Keep Hard or Electronic Copies of all Sources arrow View
When you finalize your reference list, it’s way easier to check for all the details from a copy than having to look up the source all over again.
9. Manage Your Stress arrow View
One of the top reasons students give for plagiarism is stress. They feel overwhelmed, and end up plagiarizing either accidentally or intentionally. The consequences are still the same, so don’t risk it. If you find yourself overwhelmed, seek help or ask for an extension.
10. When in Doubt, Always ask! arrow View
If you have any questions about citations, ask your instructor, library staff or the teaching commons. Better to be sure than to unintentionally plagiarize!