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Women's Studies

Avoiding Plagiarism

  Welcome to Avoiding Plagiarism

We know you have come to this tutorial because you are a serious writer who wants to write well — and correctly! You have probably heard the word plagiarism and would like to understand it better. You have come to the right place. In this tutorial, you’ll learn:

In this module you will learn:

•    What plagiarism is
•    How to recognize seven basic types of plagiarism
•    How to avoid plagiarizing 
•    The difference between common knowledge and information that should be cited
•    Writing good paraphrases
•    Citing images, videos and music

Want to test your knowledge about plagiarism? Take this short quiz by the Excelsior Online Writing Lab !

  What is Plagiarism? 

Watch this brief 3:38 min. video on plagiarism by Utah State University Libraries. Mohave Community College also uses Turnitin software in Schoology to check student writing for citation mistakes or inappropriate copying. MCC students also found plagiarizing are subject to academic, and where appropriate, disciplinary sanctions.

Mohave Community College defines plagiarism as... 

According to the MCC Student Code of Conduct, plagiarism is defined as “intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in any academic exercise. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, the use of paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials. Information gathered from the Internet and not properly identified is also considered plagiarism. False Citation, incorrect or inadequate citation of sources, and purchasing, downloading, or using papers written by another individual is also included under plagiarism."

Students found in violation of the MCC Honor Policy outlined in the MCC Student Code of Conduct are subject to academic, and where appropriate, disciplinary sanctions.

The 10 Most Common Types of Plagiarism in Order of Severity of Intent

#1. Clone

Submitting another's work, word-for-word, as ones own

#6. Hybrid

Combines perfectly cited sources with copied
passages without citation

#2. CTRL-C

Contains significant portions of text
from a single source without alterations


Mixes copied material from multiple sources


Changing key words and phrases but
retaining the essential content of the

#8. 404 ERROR

Includes citations to non-existent or inaccurate information about sources


Paraphrases from multiple sources, made to fit together


Includes proper citation to sources but the paper contains almost no original work


Borrows generously from the writer's previous work without citation


Includes proper citation, but relies too closely on the text's original wording and/or structure

   "Types of Plagiarism." IParadigms, n.d. Web. 07 May 2015.          

  Avoiding Plagiarism

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to become a good writer! This requires a lot of hard work, and it takes time. So be sure to allow enough time to write your paper. Do not wait until the last minute!

On the following pages, you will see a series of specific suggestions on how to avoid plagiarism, including proper citation, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Watch the video below to learn about ways you can avoid plagiarism in your writing.

How to Cite                                                             

Direct Quotations

When you use the exact words of someone else in your paper, this is known as a verbatim quote.  The words must be put inside quotation marks, and the source must be cited.


“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” (Wilde, 1892).

  Direct quotations should be used sparingly.  No more than 10% of your paper should be made up of direct quotations.  When you want to use the idea but not the exact words, then use a paraphrase or summary.

Method of Citation

The citation may be made as an in-text citation, a footnote, or an endnote.

Example of in-text citation:
According to Levy (1997), the tutor-tool framework is useful.

Example of footnote or endnote:
According to Levy, the tutor-tool framework is useful. 1

Bottom of page or chapter:
1Michael Levy, Computer-Assisted Language Learning: Context and Conceptualization (New York: Oxford), 178.

   In all cases, the source must also be included in the list of references at the end of your paper.

Style of Citation

The basic style guides are

IMPORTANT: Ask your teacher which style to follow for their course.

How to Cite Sources by Excelsior OWL is licensed under CC BY 4.0

  Common Knowledge & Plagiarism

If information is very well known to most people, it may be considered “common knowledge” and does not need to be cited. 

Examples of common knowledge:

  • January is the first month of the year.

  • Tokyo is the capital of Japan.

  • The earth revolves around the sun.

  • Soccer, or futbol, is a popular sport worldwide.

  • Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.

  • The Eifel Tower is located in Paris.

  • Facebook is a social media network.

  • An equilateral triangle is a triangle with three equal sides.

  • The sun sets in the west.

  • The Titanic was a ship that sank on its first voyage.

It is not always clear what “common knowledge” is. If the information is found in general references and if most people know it, it may be considered common knowledge.

However, what is commonly known in one field may not be known by the general public.

If you aren’t sure if something can be considered common knowledge, it is always safer to cite it.

Common Knowledge & Plagiarism by Excelsior OWL is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Paraphrasing & Plagiarism

When you paraphrase, you say something in different words. The length of your paraphrased text will be approximately the same as the original.

Original Example:
“Hand gestures, like other forms of nonverbal communication, can change the meaning of our words as well as carry meanings totally by themselves.  Unless we understand the meanings attached to certain hand gestures in the different cultures, we are likely to send and receive unintended messages when dealing with people from other cultures. When two ordinary citizens from two different cultures miscommunicate through hand gestures, the result can be embarrassment or hard feelings” (Ferraro, 2001).

Paraphrased Example:
Both body language and words are used to convey meaning.  Movements such as hand gestures can alter the meaning of spoken words, or be used alone to convey meaning.  If we don’t understand the meaning a person from another culture intends to convey through his hand gestures, and if that person doesn’t understand the meaning of ours, there’s a good chance we’ll misunderstand each other and feel ill at ease or possibly offended (Ferraro, 2001).

Ferraro, Gary. (2001). Cultural anthropology: An applied perspective (4th ed.). Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

  IMPORTANT: When you paraphrase, you still must cite the source of the information or idea. If you do not, you may be guilty of plagiarism.

Paraphrasing & Plagiarism by Excelsior OWL is licensed under CC BY 4.0

What About Images, Videos and Music?  

Using an image, video or piece of music in a work you have produced without receiving proper permission or  providing appropriate citation is plagiarism. The following activities are very common in today’s society. Despite their popularity, they still count as plagiarism.

  • Copying media (especially images) from other websites to paste them into your own papers or websites. 
  • Making a video using footage from others’ videos or using copyrighted music as part of the soundtrack.
  •  Performing another person’s copyrighted music (i.e., playing a cover). music notes   
  • Composing a piece of music that borrows heavily from another composition.
The above media types can be particularly challenging for students to determine whether or not the copyrights of a work are being violated. For example:
  • Using a copyrighted image in a research paper or personal website without giving the original artist credit
  • Recording audio or video in which copyrighted music or video is playing in the background.  musical notes
  • Re-creating a visual work in the same medium. (for example: shooting a photograph that uses the same composition and subject matter as someone else’s photograph)
  • Re-creating a visual work in a different medium (for example: making a painting that closely resembles another person’s photograph).  paint brush and paint
  • Re-mixing or altering copyrighted images, video or audio, even if done so in an original way.  

scales of justice  The legality of the above situations, and others, is dependent upon the intent and context within which they are produced. The two safest approaches for students to take in regards to these situations is: 1) Avoid them altogether or 2) Confirm the works’ usage permissions and cite them properly.

What is Plagiarism by is licensed under CC BY