Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism


  • It's easy to take something out of context if you only read a portion of it! If you read the entire source, you should have a better feel of the author's meaning.


  • Anytime you note something word-for-word, immediately place it in quotation marks. Also note what page or section you found it on.
  • On each page, make sure you note the original source and the date you accessed the source. This will make citation much easier, especially if you are working with multiple sources or doing research over a long stretch of time.
  • Try not to mix your own thoughts and commentary with excerpts from your source. Keep them on separate pages, draw two columns on your page, or switch your pen color.
  • If you find it difficult to take notes with electronic sources - or if you find yourself drawn to the copy-paste method - print out your sources and deal with them in print form.


  • In order to do this, you must not procrastinate on your projects. If you don't have sufficient time, you won't do your best work, and it may lead you to make poor decisions when including your sources. Remember, if you get caught plagiarizing, the situation or your intentions won't be an excuse. Build in time to synthesize and properly work in your sources.
  • Identify which sources are best for inclusion. Understand when you have to cite. Then decide whether you should directly quote, summarize, or paraphrase. If you are directly quoting, double-check your notes against the source for accuracy. If you are summarizing or paraphrasing:
    • Make sure the source is fresh in your mind, but not right in front of you. If you see the original text, you are more likely to want to use their terms and sentence structure.
    • Check your writing against the original. Remember, you should have changed the sentence structure and the language but the meaning of the source should still be the same. Any language that is unique to the source should be placed in quotation marks or removed. You may find it necessary to do several edits.



What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of appropriating and using the ideas, writings, or works of original expressions of another person as one's own without giving credit to the person who created the work. This may encompass portions of a work or an entire work. Works of original expression include but are not limited to papers, speeches, poetry, movies, videos, protected pieces of art, illustrations, and musical compositions.

Plagiarism can result from either deliberate dishonesty or ignorance of citational procedures. Deliberate plagiarism is especially serious and warrants more severe sanctions, but even plagiarism based on ignorance of procedures is a punishable offense, especially when it occurs more than once. 

Plagiarism is an act of dishonesty and violates the mission and spirit of the educational enterprise at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University. It also violates the rights of other students.

CSB and SJU Academic Affairs Plagiarism Policy

Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional; both are wrong. Intentional plagiarism is when you knowingly use someone else's work and present it as your own.

Students who take incomplete notes, do not understand the research process, or who are generally uninformed about the correct way to gather and cite sources could potentially commit unintentional or accidental plagiarism.

Examples of Plagiarism

  • Writing down information word for word, and neglecting to note the author and source
  • Taking notes without distinguishing between your words and another author’s, and then presenting the ideas as your own
  • Copy/pasting from the Web into your work without crediting the author
  • Using unique phrases or sentences of another author without acknowledgement
  • Buying or acquiring a research paper and turning it in as your own
  • Using a classmate’s work and turning it in as your own
  • Direct quotes without acknowledgement: using the unique phrases or sentences of another author without including citation or attribution
  • Paraphrasing without acknowledgement: using the ideas of another author, even if you have summarized or reworded things, without including citation or attribution

Avoiding Plagiarism

To avoid plagiarism, scholars take accurate notes when gathering original material, use citations in the text of their paper, and create an accurate works cited list/bibliography at the end of their paper.

  1. Make a list of the authors and sources you find while gathering your research.
  2. In your notes, separate the exact words of an author from your own ideas by using quotation marks around the original author’s words.
  3. In the text of your paper, carefully cite each author and source. Each reference in the text of your research paper should link to a full citation in the Works Cited list at the end of the research paper.

If you have questions about plagiarism, reach out to the Writing Center or ask a Research Librarian.


Consequences of Plagiarism at CSB and SJU

Review the Plagiarism Policy at CSB and SJU

First offense for Plagiarism:

  1. The penalty for a first offense of academic misconduct is failure of the course in which the academic misconduct occurred. This penalty may be reduced at the instructor's discretion.
  2. The process of written acknowledgement and closed file described in section I will be implemented.
  3. If a student commits two acts of academic misconduct nearly simultaneously it is at the academic dean's discretion whether they are regarded as one or two offenses

Penalties ramp up quickly, so it is best to learn how to avoid plagiarism and practice responsible academic writing.

Attribution for This Section 

Content: "Understanding Plagiarism." by Cabrillo College Info-Lit Canvas page.

A General Guide to Understanding Written Plagiarism