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Northwest Missouri State University

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Reusing Collaborative Papers
Plagiarizing Accidentally
Documenting the Spoken Word Citing Sources
Respecting Others

Using an Author's Exact Words:
  • Use quotation marks around all words copied from a source.
  • Choose to quote an author's exact words when the phrasing is unique or strengthens your argument.
  • Provide a citation for the source of the exact words you used immediately after the quotation.

Paraphrasing an Author's Words:
  • Paraphrase an author's words by stating his or her ideas in your own words with your own phrasing.
  • Compare your paraphrased writing with the author's exact words to make sure you have not copied phrases or sentences from the author.
  • Always provide a citation for the paraphrased ideas.

Borrowing Information:
  • Cite the source when borrowing a figure, graph, map, data, or table from another author's work.

Stating Common Knowledge:        
  • Information that is commonly known by the public or the intended readers of a paper do not need citations for sources. Example:
    • Food contains calories and nutrients.
  • Unsure if an idea is common knowledge for the intended readers of your paper? When in doubt, cite a source.

Reusing Collaborative Papers:
  • If two students wrote a paper as a collaborative group or team project, one of the authors cannot submit the entire paper for another assignment as if it is his or her own paper.
  • Any information borrowed from a paper you wrote collaboratively should include citations for the information borrowed from the original paper.

Plagiarizing Accidentally:
  • Keep direct quotes in a separate document from your working document.
  • Keep track of all sources consulted.
  • When in doubt, check your paper/project against the wording within the sources.

Documenting the Spoken Word:
  • Information drawn from personal communications, speeches, broadcasts, conversations, interviews and other spoken words must be documented with a citation and/or parenthetical citation (Writing Tutorial Services).
  • Style manuals provide information about citing sources for the spoken word. Consult Style Manuals on Reserve to locate style manuals in Owens Library. Citation examples for personal communications and interviews are listed on the library's Citing Sources pages.

Respecting Others:
  • Giving credit for work that is not your own respects and honors the intellectual property of others and is expected by your professors.


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