Avoiding Plagiarism FAQ • LSC-CyFair
Based on information received from the recent LSC-CyFair Branch Library academic integrity survey, librarian-led instruction sessions, and professor input, LSC-CyFair English Professor Britney Jeffrey and retired Reference Librarian Monica Norem answer popular student questions on plagiarism.
Click on any question below to view the answer.
- Work alone on projects, tests, etc. unless approval given to collaborate
- Credit authors/groups if you use their materials in an assignment.
- Keep copies of your work and sources used.
- Ask your professor for clarification on whether an action would be considered plagiarism.
Professors using Turnitin.com receive an originality report that they review before identifying a paper as plagiarized. They can set limits on small matches of text to eliminate common phrases being marked as plagiarized (Turnitin 56). If a professor notifies a student about plagiarized content in a project, there should be a discussion about what content originated with the student vs. an outside source. If needed, the LSCS academic appeals process can be used.
Citation Styles and Formatting
English, art, and humanities favor MLA, although other disciplines may use it because it is the most familiar citation style. Psychology, sociology, and health professions use APA most frequently. Chicago-style (CMOS/CMS) can be found in research papers for history and religion. The "Turabian" guide is associated with CMOS/CMS and includes research paper format details for undergraduates. Other types of citation styles exist, also (Harris). Check with each professor for their preferred citation style unless it is listed in assignments or the syllabus.
Paraphrasing and Summarizing Another Author’s Ideas
A research assignment’s usual aim is to assess a student’s ability to share his/her unique ideas with support from reliable and pertinent sources. Individual professors may limit the number of direct quotes you can use in assignments, but your goal is to display your understanding of ideas through your words primarily, supported with summaries, paraphrases, and to a lesser extent, quotations at opportune points in your writing. For maximum effect, quotations can be used to express unique and powerful ideas that cannot or should not be written in any other way. But you can use quotations inside paraphrases and summaries as well. Proper names and organizations do not need quotations around them as they are unique and have no synonym (Kirszner and Mandell 268).
Professors want you to demonstrate your understanding of source material. Paraphrasing is an excellent chance to read, analyze, comprehend, and reword information, based on your grasp of a source’s content. Find instructions for writing a paraphrase from LSC-CyFair Branch Library.
A paraphrase seeks to preserve the essence of an idea and its details in about the same length as the original information, but in a different order with mostly different words. A summary condenses original information to only the main idea from a longer to shorter length and with different wording (“Summary”). Find examples of paraphrase and summary from LSC-CyFair Branch Library.
Citations created by databases or citation creators are not 100% correct in most cases and students must be able to identify what is missing or incorrect in a generated citation. So check the citations for accuracy using library guides to help get a better grade on your assignment.
Different disciplines focus on the position of citation elements based on type of research. APA favors the authors and currency of research in scholarly journals primarily, MLA is more interested in a variety of research and specific analysis by different authors, and CMOS/CMS stresses content above citation using footnotes instead of in-text citations (“Why”). In the workplace, you will find companies also have varying style guides and expectations for documentation. Therefore, it is beneficial to learn, understand, and practice similar nuances now.
Most of them get a passing grade for being close to correct, while adding other elements that are not necessary. Some allow you to simply enter a URL for a web page and the citation generator pulls information from the page and creates a citation for you. Other types of resources require you to identify citation elements and enter them into the spaces provided. So some of the accuracy depends on what you enter or leave blank. We like KnightCite because it seems to know some of the unique aspects of citation styles and reformats citations to fit those aspects, yet it is not perfect, so you still have to check the citation against library guides.
A good faith effort to cite sources correctly is important for your success in college. It is helpful to review citations with the library guides before you submit your research project and citations. Ask your professor for information on how they grade citations, so you know how much is deducted for incorrect citations.
Yes, you need to give credit to the original source you used by citing it in the body of your project every time it is referenced accompanied by one detailed listing for the source in your works cited, references, or bibliography.
Professors want you to learn the rules for crediting others while adding your own ideas. You need to separate your thoughts from other authors and citation is the method, so you can be assessed on your understanding of valid support for your ideas while sharing your own ideas. Also, citation is part of the LSCS academic integrity policy.
If an idea comes from a source you used for information, it remains their idea even if you rework the wording. So you need to give credit to that original author of the idea.
Facts or popular sayings that are published in most popular reference tools like encyclopedias, almanacs, and atlases may be considered common knowledge if you believe your audience knows them. So if you were speaking to a group of students in Texas, most of them should know that the large body of water that forms one of our borders is the Gulf of Mexico. You would not need to cite that fact. When in doubt about your audience’s common knowledge, go ahead and cite the fact (Axelrod and Cooper 428).
Axelrod, Rise B., and Charles R. Cooper. The Concise St. Martin’s Guide to Writing. 7th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015.
Harris, Jennifer. “FAQ: What Citation Style Should I Use?” Shapiro Library, Southern New Hampshire U, 25 Aug. 2017, libanswers.snhu.edu/faq/69000.
Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. The Holt Handbook, 6th ed., Thomson/Heinle, 2002.
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2009.
“Summary and Paraphrase.” Anoka-Ramsey Community College, webs.anokaramsey.edu/stankey/Writing/MLA_SPQ/SummPara.htm.
Turnitin Instructor User Manual. Turnitin, turnitin.com/static/resources/documentation/turnitin/training/Instructor_Originality_Report_Chapter_2.pdf.
“Why Are There Different Citation Styles?” Yale Center for Teaching and Learning, ctl.yale.edu/writing/using-sources/why-are-there-different-citation-styles.