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Preventing Plagiarism: Home

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Plagiarism is using someone else's work and passing it off as one's own. The term comes from the Latin word plagiarius, which means kidnapper.


What Isn't Plagiarism?

Here are some examples of text that doesn't need to be cited in your research papers.

  • Your opinion
  • Common knowledge
  • Accepted factual information
  • Things you personally observe and record
  • Personal experiences


The Basics

1. When borrowing an author's wording for your own paper use quotation marks and include a complete citation (author name, date of publication, page reference) that can easily lead the reader directly to the source.

2. Electronic sources must also be acknowledged.

3. When borrowing another author's views, ideas or opinions for your own paper be sure to give credit to the original thinker.

4. Paraphrasing another's ideas without clearly citing the source also counts as plagiarism. Give a complete citation that can easily lead the reader directly to the source.

5. Work used previously in another class cannot be re-used (self-plagiarism) without permission from the instructor.

Types of Plagiarism 

Intentional Plagiarism 

Intentional plagiarism is often treated more severely than unintentional plagiarism. Students accused of plagiarism often admit that they knew what they were doing was wrong, but "had no choice" because they began the assignment too late or didn't do enough research beforehand. Regardless of the circumstances, intentional plagiarism (like intentional fouls in sports) is treated very seriously. Types of intentional plagiarism include:

  • Purchasing a paper online and submitting it as your own
  • Submitting a paper given to you by a friend, classmate, or family member
  • Having someone else write a paper for you
  • Submitting a paper you already submitted in another class
  • Making up sources to cite

In each of these cases, even if you make substantial revisions, it's still considered plagiarism.


Unintentional Plagiarism 

The most common plagiarism offenses are unintentional, so it's important to know what to avoid before you begin your research. Some of the most common mistakes include:

  • Quoting something verbatim but not including a citation
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing another text but not including a citation
  • Paraphrasing poorly by rearranging sentences and simply replacing certain words
  • Creating sloppy in-text citations and Works Cited pages

Avoiding these pitfalls is easy so long as you review the contents of this guide, give yourself enough time to complete an assignment, and be honest about which ideas are your own and which ideas come from others' works.

Plagiarism Tutorial 

Why Cite?

Citing your sources gives you credibility as a researcher and helps you give credit where credit is due.

  1. By citing your sources, you acknowledge the scholars who came before you and helped you along the way.
  2. Citing also helps anyone reading your paper evaluate your writing for credibility. In the same way that you might evaluate a resource you find on the internet, your readers will evaluate your writing using your citations.

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What is Plagiarism?

This useful graphic shows the most common forms of plagiarism, with the most severe at the top. Numbers 1 and 8 are intentional and flagrant plagiarism violations, but every other form could be committed either intentionally or unintentionally.

(image source: originally from

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