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Get Your Research Started: The Basic Steps: Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism Tutorials

Plagiarism Links

When Its Not OK to Reuse

Is it OK to get help on a paper?

Help from another person on a paper does not necessarily become plagiarism. If the help consists of criticisms of the words and ideas of your paper, rather than substitutions for those words and ideas, it is acceptable. At the point that you insert someone else's ideas or words into your paper without acknowledging the source of those ideas, plagiarism begins. If you use someone else's ideas or words, say so in your paper.

Is it OK for a friend, parent, or relative to write all or part of a paper for me?

Regardless of the motivation of the "helper," if you hand in work that has been done in part or whole by another without specifically indicating what help was given, you have committed plagiarism. Isn't the Internet in the public domain and can't I use information that I find there?

Material on the Internet is the intellectual property of its author, even if you do not know who the author is. As such, even if itdoes not include a copyright statement or display a copyright symbol, it is copyrighted and may not be used without permission. In addition, you are plagiarizing if you use any material at all from the Internet - words, ideas, pictures, graphs, code - without acknowledging its source.[edit]

How to Protect yourself from possible Plagiarism

Plagiarism can be deliberate or inadvertent. When students deliberately plagiarize, they usually report that they had procrastinated so long that they felt they had no options. * Are you a procrastinator? If so, you have a lot of company. Research is a complex process and you can't do your best work if you don't allow enough time. Use the Planning Assignments calculator to make sure that you stay on track.

When students plagiarize inadvertently, the fault typically lies with sloppy organization and note-taking. Many students lose track of the source of the notes that they have taken, and eventually come to believe that they are original ideas. Whether or not you mean to plagiarize is ultimately irrelevant. If you use the intellectual property of another without proper attribution, it is a violation of the College of Charleston honor code. Can you avoid inadvertent plagiarism? This tutorial  will help.

How do I cite or acknowledge that I have used ideas or words of another writer?

Your teacher may specify how you should acknowledge your sources and may have a style sheet or guide for this purpose. A phrase like, "As Sarah Magog writes in Civilization's End,..." will show that you have borrowed material.  If you are not sure whether or not to acknowledge something, do it.

Refer to the Citation Library Guide for help with classic citation styles.

Plagiarism Defined

From the College of Charleston Student Handbook -- something all students sign before being fully admitted:

6.1. The verbatim repetition, without acknowledgement, of the writings of another author. All significant phrases, clauses, or passages, taken directly from source material must be enclosed in quotation marks and acknowledged either in the text itself and/or in footnotes/endnotes.
6.2. Borrowing without acknowledging the source.
6.3. Paraphrasing the thoughts of another writer without acknowledgement.
6.4. Allowing any other person or organization to prepare work which one then submits as his/her own.


  • Plagiarism is including in a paper words or ideas from a book or other source without citing or acknowledging that source.
  • Plagiarism is including material found on, or bought through, the Internet or another medium without citing the source of that material.
  • Plagiarism is including another student's work in your own paper, with or without that student's knowledge.
  • Plagiarism is including part of all of a paper you have written for another course, without the express permission of your teacher to do so, or without citation of the previous work.
  • Plagiarism is including in your paper words or ideas freely offered by another person, be it a dormmate, friend, or a member of your own family, but not acknowledged as another's work.
  • Plagiarism is paraphrasing materials from a source text without appropriate documentation.