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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Avoiding Plagiarism: Tips for Preventing Plagiarism

Learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Tips for Plagiarism Prevention

  • Don't procrastinate.  Students who rush their work can make careless mistakes, such as forgetting to include a particular citation, or not having all the information needed for documentation.  Students under pressure may also make poor choices, such as not documenting sources and hoping the professor won't notice.  Believe us- your professor will notice, and you won't like the long-term consequeneces.
  • Take careful notes.  You need to be very clear in your notes whether you are writing down word-for-word what you found somewhere else, or if you are jotting down your own idea.  You should take down all the information you will need to create your citations.
  • Cite your sources. Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or share an unusual fact, tell your reader where the information came from.
  • Get comfortable with the required citation style.  Some of the  commonly used citation styles on our campus are APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian.  While they share many similarities, they also have differing requirements in regards to what and when to cite.
  • Ask your professor. If you're not sure about citing something, check with your instructor. Ultimately, she will be the one grading your assigment- or bringing you up on plagiarism charges.

Avoiding Plagiarism Checklist

1) Are you using your own independent material (i.e., material that reflects your own thoughts, opinion)?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, OK. If No, you need to CITE.

2) Are you using common knowledge (i.e., something that everyone knows)?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, OK. If No, you need to CITE.

3) Are you using someone else’s independent material (i.e., material NOT your own thoughts)?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, you need to CITE. If No, OK.

4) Do all the quotations exactly match their source?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure they are correctly matched.

5) Have you used your own words and sentence structures for every paraphrase and summary related to another’swork?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure you use quotation marks around the author’s/authors’ words.

6) Have you included an in-text citation for every paraphrase and summary related to another’s work?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure you create an in-text citation for each reference to another’s work, even when you put that idea into your own words.

7) Does your list of References include all the sources you have mentioned in your paper?

□ Yes            □ No

If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure all of the sources you mention in your paper are listed on the References page.

Source: Erin K. Elgin, Business Instructor on Iowa City Campus as published in the Kirkwood Community College Libraries' Plagiarism LibGuide.