Mohave Community College Libraries

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What's the Point?

In this module you learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it. 

  • Watch An Introduction to Plagiarism to learn the basics about plagiarism, and when to properly cite sources.
  • Read Common Forms of Plagiarism to identify the actions that are considered plagiarism. 
  • Read What About Images, Videos and Music? to know how to properly use copyrighted media.
  • Examples of Acceptable and Unacceptable Paraphrasing identifies the differences between correct and incorrect paraphrasing. 
  • The Glossary of Terms reviews the terms related to plagiarism . 

Avoiding Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?    No plagiarism icon

You Quote It, You Note It! is an 10 minute interactive tutorial created by the Acadia University Library that describes the act of plagiarism, and differentiates between paraphrasing and quoting. To play the tutorial either select the below image or the title. 

You Quote It, You Note It!

You Quote it, You Note It! by Acadia University Library is licensed under a CC BY-NC

MCC's Definition of Plagiarism    No plagiarism icon

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 is the misrepresentation of someone else’s research, thought, or writing as one’s own. Plagiarism occurs when a student uses the ideas or phrasing of another individual or group and presents the information as their own without crediting the original source.”

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.

Common Forms of Plagiarism   No plagiarism icon

1) Passing off another's ideas

Instead of copying words, you use someone else's ideas without giving them credit. This also includes taking credit for entire words written by someone else. 

Several examples include:

  • Using an author's ideas or words without citing the author.
  • Using a person's work, such as music, film, photography, and any other media, without giving credit to the person.
  • Buying a paper someone else wrote. 
  • Recycling a paper someone else wrote.

2) Fabricating citations

You make up all or part of a citation. 


  • If you falsify a citation, that is plagiarism.
  • If you falsify part of a citation, that is plagiarism. 
  • If you cite a real source, but do not use it in your paper, that is also plagiarism.

3) Paraphrasing incorrectly

You restate or summarize someone else's words but don't give them credit. 

Paraphrasing correctly:

  • Is not rearranging words in a sentence.
  • Is not substituting words with a thesaurus.
  • Is synthesizing a passage of text and describing it (the idea) in your own words.
  • Is restating or summarizing someone else's words or ideas and giving credit to the author (that fall outside of common knowledge). 

4) Copy, cutting & pasting

You copy words or the whole passages from the original source without giving credit.


  • Cite the source of your info whether it's found in print or on the Internet, unless it's considered common knowledge.
  • Use quotation marks around a phrase or sentence that you use from a print source, electronic source or a Website.
  • The Internet has made it easier to copy,cut and paste, BUT the Internet has also made it easier to identify cases of plagiarism.

"Preventing Plagiarism" by The Library UC San Diego is licensed under CC-BY-NCCopyright ©2010 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

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

Examples of Acceptable and Unacceptable Paraphrasing  no plagiarism icon

The examples below will show you how paraphrase correctly. They're adapted from Paraphrasing by University Libraries, University of Arizona with its gracious permission.

Here's the original text, from page 1 of Lizzie Borden: A Case Book of Family and Crime in the 1890s by Joyce Williams et al.:

The rise of industry, the growth of cities, and the expansion of the population were the three great developments of late nineteenth century American history. As new, larger, steam-powered factories became a feature of the American landscape in the East, they transformed farm hands into industrial laborers, and provided jobs for a rising tide of immigrants. With industry came urbanization the growth of large cities (like Fall River, Massachusetts, where the Bordens lived) which became the centers of production as well as of commerce and trade.

Here's an unacceptable paraphrase:

The increase of industry, the growth of cities, and the explosion of the population were three large factors of nineteenth century America. As steam-driven companies became more visible in the eastern part of the country, they changed farm hands into factory workers and provided jobs for the large wave of immigrants. With industry came the growth of large cities like Fall River where the Bordens lived which turned into centers of commerce and trade as well as production.

What makes this passage plagiarism?

This is unacceptable paraphrasing because the writer has:

  • only changed a few words and phrases
  • only changed the order of the original's sentences
  • failed to cite a source for any of the ideas or facts

Here's an acceptable paraphrase:

Fall River, where the Borden family lived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century. Steam-powered production had shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing, and as immigrants arrived in the U.S., they found work in these new factories. As a result, populations grew and large urban areas arose. Fall River was one of these manufacturing and commercial centers (Williams 1).

Why is this passage acceptable?

  • accurately relays the information in the original using his/her own words
  • lets the reader know the source of information

Here's an another acceptable paraphrase, using a quotation and paraphrase together:

Fall River, where the Borden family lived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century. As steam-powered production shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing, the demand for workers "transformed farm hands into factory workers" and created jobs for immigrants. In turn, growing populations increased the size of urban areas. Fall River was one of these manufacturing hubs that were also "centers of commerce and trade" (Williams 1).

Why is this passage acceptable?

  • accurately records the information in the original passage
  • gives credit for the ideas in this passage
  • indicated which part is taken directly from the source by putting the passage in quotation marks and citing the page number

strategy icon Strategies for avoiding plagiarism

1. Put quotation marks around everything that comes directly from the text, especially when taking notes.

2. When you paraphrase, be sure you're not just rearranging or replacing a few words. Instead, read over what you want to paraphrase carefully; cover up the text with your hand, or close the text so you can't see any of it (and so aren't tempted to use the text as a "guide"). Write out the idea in your own words without peeking.

3. Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you haven't accidentally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate.


Common Knowledge: facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be known by a lot of people. 

Intentional Plagiarism: is the purposeful passing off of someone else's ideas or words as your own. Examples include:

  • Buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper
  • Downloading a paper off the internet
  • Revising part or all of a paper you prepared for another class
  • Cutting and pasting directly from a source without quotation marks and/or proper citation

Paraphrasing: using someone’s ideas, but putting them in your own words. This is probably the skill you will use most when incorporating sources into your writing. Although you use your own words to paraphrase, you must still acknowledge the source of the information.

Plagiarism: using others' ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

Quotation: using someone’s words. When you quote, place the passage you are using in quotation marks, and document the source according to a standard documentation style.

Unintentional Plagiarism: Is the unintentional passing off of someone else's ideas or words as your own.  Examples include:

  • Failing to use quotation marks and/or properly cite your source
  • Changing a few words and thinking no citation is needed
  • Misunderstanding what constitutes general knowledge