Avoiding Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using someone else's words and ideas without giving credit for the source of the information. Plagiarism is wrong and dishonest because it misrepresents the work of another as your own. When using a direct quotation you must put the words in quotation marks and cite your source(s). You also must give citations when using someone else's ideas, even if those words are paraphrased in your own words.

These are examples of the types of sources that should be cited:

Print sources

  • Books
  • Chapters in books
  • Journal/magazine/newspaper articles
  • Letters
  • Diaries

Electronic sources

  • Web pages
  • Articles from web based magazines/journals
  • Newsgroup postings
  • E-mail messages
  • Databases


  • Works of art
  • Illustrations
  • Cartoons
  • Graphics
  • Tables/charts/graphs

Recorded/spoken material

  • Course lectures
  • Films
  • Videos
  • TV or radio broadcasts
  • Interviews
  • Public speeches



The acknowledgement of a source from which you got information. The most common citation method is to identify the source in the text, putting the author's last name and the publication year in parenthesis, with the page number of the cited material. The most common styles used at Cardinal Stritch University are MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). Citation style guides for the APA and MLA can be found on the Library homepage. If you are unsure whether or not to cite a source, err on the side of caution and cite it.


Common Knowledge

Information that is widely known and can be found in numerous places. This includes facts, dates, events, quotations, or any information that any educated person would know. The fact that Abraham Lincoln was a President of the United States is common knowledge. No individual owns the information. It is not necessary to cite common knowledge.


The restatement of an author's passage or text in another form or others words. Paraphrasing or summarizing doesn't mean just changing a few words of the original work.


Using someone's words exactly as they appeared in the source. When you quote, place the passage you are using in quotation marks and give the citation for the source

How to Avoid Plagiarism

  • Begin your research early and budget enough time to do thorough research. To produce quality papers and assignments takes time to select, gather, and read source material. Allowing plenty of time avoids panic situations that can easily lead to plagiarism.
  • Learn to use the research tools available to you. The Internet is not always the best source for research information. Some of the specialized databases available in the library may require learning some new or different searching techniques.
  • Expect to spend some time in the library. While you can access many of the library's resources from home, to take best advantage of all the information available, you need the assistance of a librarian.
  • Observe the Academic Integrity Policy in your Student Handbook.
  • Get help. Your professors/instructors can provide you with assistance. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don't understand the assignment.
  • Talk to a librarian. Librarians are there to help you with your research. They can offer tips on doing research and evaluating sources.

Document your sources:

  • Be sure when you are doing research that you carefully note the title, author, pages, year(s) of each of source you use. You will need this information for documenting your sources and creating the reference list for your paper. If you are taking information from the Internet make sure you have the aliress of the site in order to cite it properly.
  • Direct quotes: Quote the author's words accurately. Make sure to indicate the exact beginning and end of the quotation. Copy the wording, punctuation and spelling exactly as it appears in the original. Enclose the quotation within quotation marks. Use the in-text citation format (APA, MLA) specified for your paper. Provide the complete citation information in the reference list at the end of your paper.
  • Paraphrasing: Cite the original source in-text immediately after the paraphrase. Provide the complete citation information in the reference list at the end of your paper.