- What is plagiarism?
- Plagiarism at UVic
- Types of plagiarism
- Avoiding plagiarism
- Examples of paraphrasing and quoting
Plagiarism: The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft.
- Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2006
You must always give credit when you use other people's content-words, ideas, images and so forth-in your academic work. Your assignments and exams must also be your own original work, not someone else's. Otherwise you are plagiarizing: taking credit for another's work, whether in part or whole, and whether intentionally or accidentally.
To help prevent and detect plagiarism, UVic subscribes to Turnitin, a plagiarism-detection software that instructors may use to help determine the originality of student work and ensure proper citations. Your work may be analyzed and compared against text on the web, articles in online databases, papers from "buy a term paper" web sites, and other student papers. Learn more about Turnitit at UVic.
The consequences of plagiarism range from a failing grade for an assignment or course to disciplinary probation or even expulsion from the university. See UVic's Policy on Academic Integrity for more about the consequences of plagiarism and other forms of cheating.
While buying a paper off the internet is obviously cheating, there are subtler forms of plagiarism-often unintentional, due to improper citing-that you need to be aware of and careful to avoid. You can still get in trouble even if it's an accident.
Plagiarism by improper citations (this can be deliberate but is often unintentional)
- Take careful, organized notes. As you read and take notes from books, articles, etc., clearly mark which passages you copy word for word (direct quotes), which are paraphrases, and which are your own thoughts. Also include the original source's citation and the specific page numbers for each note. When you refer back to them later to write assignments, you'll know where you got the material and how it should be cited.
- Manage your time effectively. Don't let stress, lack of time, or not understanding the assignment tempt you to plagiarize. Instead plan ahead and start your assignments early. If you are confused about the assignment, get clarification from your instructor as soon as possible. For ideas to help you get started, keep on track, and use your time wisely, use the assignment calculator, see a subject guide and visit Research Tips Central.
- Know how and when to cite. Though citation rules vary for different style guides, the basic principles remain the same.
- Use quote marks when using someone's exact phrasing, even if it's only a word or two, and cite it.
- Paraphrase by putting a passage into your own words, making sure you change the sentence structure and other distinctions of the original, without misrepresenting its meaning. Compare your paraphrase to the source and check that you haven't accidentally kept significant words or phrases.
- If an author has captured a concept perfectly, quote it, or paraphrase most of it but put quote marks around the few words that could not be said any other way.
- Always cite paraphrases! You may not be using someone else's words, but you are using their ideas.
You need to cite when using words and ideas from any medium, online or print, including but not limited to:
- Books, journal articles, newspapers and magazines
- Theses and dissertations
- Lectures and conference or technical reports
- Letters, emails and chat transcripts
- Maps and atlases
- Brochures, advertisements and commercials
- Songs, films and TV shows
- Computer programs and code
- Any internet or computer media, such as websites, YouTube videos, podcasts and PowerPoints
- Personal interviews whether face to face, over the phone, or in writing
Also cite when reprinting or reusing other people's...
- Photos, pictures and illustrations
- Diagrams, charts and tables
- Audio, video and other media clips
You don't need to cite:
- Your original thoughts, ideas and observations
- Your personal lived experiences
- Results or conclusions from your original experiments
- Photography, artwork, audio or video that you created
- "Common knowledge"-facts likely to be known by many people that can be found and verified in numerous general reference sources
- Folklore, urban legends and myths (but do cite others' interpretations or analyses of these)
- Commonsense observations and generally accepted facts, e.g., "Smoking is a health hazard."
The following examples use an excerpt from the book Reconceiving Midwifery (2004), edited by Ivy Lynn Bourgeault, Cecilia Benoit and Robbie Davis-Floyd. The in-text citations shown below are in MLA style.
Original text from pages 3-4 (the introduction, written by the editors):
Canadian midwives and their supporters are being watched with great interest. Both at home and abroad, midwives, social scientists, health policy analysts, health care advocates, childbearing women, and their partners are asking how this new conception of the midwifery profession has evolved, how it has become integrated into provincial health care systems that have until recently excluded midwifery care, and what integrating midwifery practice will do to help improve maternity care more broadly.
Midwives from Canada are being looked at with keen interest. Here and internationally, midwives, health care advocates, health policy analysts, social scientists and families are wondering how this new conception of the midwifery profession has evolved, how-when so recently left out-it became part of health care systems in the provinces, and how midwifery will cultivate better maternal care as a whole (Bourgeault, Benoit, and Davis-Floyd 3-4).
This paraphrase merely replaces some terms with synonyms and changes the word order, leaving the sentence structure largely the same and even copying some of it word for word.
With its recent professional resurgence, progress in provincial health care policy, and potential to transform care for new and expecting mothers, Canadian midwifery has captured worldwide attention from several sectors of the health care industry (Bourgeault, Benoit, and Davis-Floyd 3-4).
This paraphrase has changed significantly from its original form yet delivers the same basic message.
In their exploration of the "new conception of the midwifery profession," Bourgeault, Benoit, and Davis-Floyd position Canadian midwives as important players in the homebirth resurgence (3-4).
Here only a key phrase is quoted. Avoid quoting long passages when you can use a combination of your own ideas or a paraphase of the author's ideas with a short and distinct quoted phrase. Also notice that the authors were incorporated into the text then excluded from the in-text citation.
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