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Writing Toolbox: Avoiding Plagiarism

Writing, research, and citation basics for UNM-Taos students.

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Avoiding Plagiarism

What is plagiarism? 

According to Random House Webster's College Dictionary (1999) plagiarism is: "1. the unauthorized use of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own. 2. something used and represented in this manner" (p. 1007). It is the ideas and thoughts of others as well as the wording that should be credited. This can include someone's artistic, musical, or literary work. Sound a little confusing? Simply put, if you copy, word for word, from any other source and do not use quotation marks and a complete citation, you have plagiarized someone else's work. Direct quotes must have both quotation marks and a complete citation.If you read someone else's work and then write that information down in your own words but do not cite it, you have just plagiarized someone else's work. Paraphrased or summarized ideas should be cited. If you use facts, figures, or any kind of statistics the source must be cited.  When in doubt, cite it! If you have questions about when to cite, what to cite, or how to cite it-- talk to your instructor, a tutor, or check with your library staff.  Examples of both Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) citation styles are available in the library.

Reference: Random House. (1999). Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. New York: Author.


See also: Avoiding Plagiarism

A guide to understanding and avoiding plagiarism from Purdue OWL.


Avoiding Plagiarism