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Avoiding Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, defines the verb plagiarize as "to use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own" or "to appropriate for use as one's own passages or ideas from (another). The Latin root of plagiarize is plagiarius which means kidnapper.

Plagiarism is also addressed in the Methodist University Academic Catalog which states that

"anything that is written in a paper, book report, or any other assignment must be in the student's own words or must properly and fully indicate the source(s). Anything that students copy word for word from another source is a direct quotation. All direct quotations must be shown as such and must be properly documented. Students must also rewrite paraphrased material in a style and language that are distinctively their own; merely rearranging the words found in a scholarly source is plagiarism. Material that is paraphrased must be documented. For methods of documentation and all others aspects of manuscript form, students should follow either current practices advocated by the Modern Language Association (MLA) or other reliable manuals recommended by individual departments and/or professors."

For more information on this, please consult the Methodist University Academic Catalog or your academic advisor.

Ways to Avoid Plagiarism When Using Library Resources

  • Pick a topic that interests you! It will be easier to understand others' thoughts and integrate (not just insert) them into your paper.
  • Start your research early - you will produce a better paper and spend more time on your work when you're not under pressure.
  • When you are making photocopies, always remember to write down where you got your information, so you will not be tempted later to make up the citation.
  • Take notes from a book or journal article using keywords rather than whole phrases or sentences from the original. This will make it easier for you to put the ideas into your own words. Copy down the citation information for the source and include it in your bibliography.
  • If you can't find a way to paraphrase the information, quote directly from the material giving the correct citation to the original. Check with your instructor to make sure that quoting is permitted first.
  • If you're not certain that you're paraphrasing instead of plagiarizing, have an advisor or instructor take a look at a draft of your paper.


If your professor has enrolled your class in Turn-It-In, the anti-plagiarism software, you will want to know how to open your account and submit assignments. For information on using Turn-It-In, go to the library's
Turn-It-In Student Guide.

For assistance with Turn-It-In, please contact the Davis Memorial Library Reference Desk at (910) 630-7123.

More Information

Avoiding Plagiarism (OWL Purdue Online)

Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism