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Plagiarism & Citation Styles: What is Plagiarism?

Defining Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the presentation of information (either written or oral) as one’s own when some or all of the information was derived from some other source.

From Manchester University's 2014-2015 Student Handbook

How to Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is an ideal way to incorporate another author's ideas into your own paper without worrying about plagiarizing or using excessive quotations. Paraphrasing is not switching out a few words or rearranging a sentence but restating information in your own wordsParaphrasing is still borrowing another individual's ideas, so you do need to cite the original author. 


To help make sure you're paraphrasing and not plagiarizing try this:

  1. Go over the information you plan on using a few times until you understand it well
  2. Set that text aside - close the book, minimize the webpage, etc.
  3. Restate the idea in your own words without referencing the original material

Sometimes an author has written something so clearly and concisely that it's not possible to paraphrase without creating nearly the same sentence(s). In that case, use a quote. Better safe than sorry!


If you'd like to practice your paraphrasing ability, try these exercises from the Purdue OWL:

Types of Plagiarism

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Less Obvious Forms of Plagiarism

  • Translating texts into English and claiming the ideas presented as your own.
  • Reusing your own paper from another course.
  • Working with a classmate on an individual assignment.
  • Using content from lectures. (Not all instructors will require you to cite information from class - check with your instructor first.)