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Plagiarism Resources: Plagiarism or Should I Cite It?

Avoid Plagiarizing Other People's Ideas

In the academic world, it is required that you give credit to people for their ideas. If you do not cite someone, you are stealing their ideas ... and this is called plagiarism. Penalties for plagiarizing can include a failing grade, expulsion from school, or financial penalties of up to $140,000.

Turn It In ... detection software embedded into CANVAS, but the professor needs to turn it on.

The boxes below describe when, how, and why to cite the ideas of previous authors.

You Don't Need to Cite

  • Common Knowledge
    Facts and general knowledge known to almost everyone and easily located in a variety of sources. Examples: water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and 32 degrees of Fahrenheit.
  • Your Own Ideas
    This is very important to understand. Your own ideas or observations about a topic are those that come before you have read a book or an article. They can also be your original thoughts after analysing the topic in other sources.
  • Your Own Work
    If you created a survey, an interview with questions you designed without the use of other sources, a field guide, a work of art, a poem, or another original work --this information is your own and does not need to be cited.

You Need to Cite

  • Other people's words.
    If directly quoted, they need to be in quotation marks and the source must be provided. If paraphrased, they need to have the source of the original words provided.
  • Other people's ideas.
  • Responding to other people's arguments or ideas
    You need to cite the original argument/idea you are responding to.
  • Information located on a website
  • Information created by a corporation or an organization, even if there is no single author provided.
    The corporation can also be the author.
  • Ideas, words, notes, etc., used in a lecture, broadcast, podcast, or other media.
  • Pictures used, video clips, audio clips, and other media.
  • Comments from blog readers


There are 3 ways to use sources: quote, paraphrase, summarize

In paraphrasing you need to change all the original words or phrases to avoid plagiarism.

There are 3 techniques to use sources: introduce it, cite it, list of references.

There are 2 ways of citing: in-text, end notes/footnotes.

There are 2 types of plagiarism: ghost writing, copy & paste

You may test your knowledge of plagiarism in this excellent plagiarism quiz created by Indiana University.

Details about Citation Styles

For additional information about how to cite, including specific style guides, see our Citation Style Guides page.

Details about Scholarly Writing styles.

Video Tutorials

We also cover this same information in a very brief Plagiarism video tutorial.

(Saturday Night Live) SNL plagiarism in the classroom routine 

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