Skip to Main Content

Plagiarism: Home

What is It and How to Avoid It

Plagiarism: What it is and How to Avoid it

Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s work in any format as your own original work without appropriate acknowledgement of the author or its source. It can also be deliberate cheating or copying and pasting from sources without correct acknowledgement.

Plagiarism is a type of student misconduct and a breach of academic integrity. It can take many forms these days, but the college has systems in place to actively check and act upon any instances of plagiarism in students’ work. Taft College treats any form of plagiarism very seriously.

Penalties for plagiarism are harsh and can result in you:

  • failing the assignment;
  • failing the subject; and/or
  • being suspended or excluded from the college.

Forms of plagiarism

Some examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • copying out part(s) of any document, audio-visual material, computer-based material or artistic piece without acknowledging the source. This includes copying directly or indirectly from the original, for example, photocopying, faxing, emailing, or by any other means, including memorizing
  • using another person's concepts, results, processes, or conclusions and passing them off as your own
  • paraphrasing and/or summarizing another's work without acknowledging the source
  • buying or acquiring an assignment written by someone else on your behalf

Other forms of behavior that breach academic integrity and are regarded at Taft College as student misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • submitting an assignment which is all or partly written or designed by someone else, including:
    • copying from someone you know;
    • downloading or buying from an Internet site.
  • allowing another person to submit your work as his/her own.
  • working together with another student on an assignment intended for individual submission, and then submitting work which is similar in content and language.
  • placing a request and offering to pay someone to complete your assessment, and then submitting that assessment task as your own.

Using what you read

Writing assignments involves bringing together two sources of ideas:

  • the ideas of others (discovered in your reading); and
  • your own ideas (formed through critical thinking).

There needs to be a balance between your own ideas and the ideas of the writers you have read.

When you use others’ ideas, you can:

  • quote (use the writer’s actual words), which requires the least input from you;
  • paraphrase (rewrite the writer’s ideas in your own words), which requires more thinking on your part; or
  • summarize (rewrite the writer’s ideas in your own words in a shorter form), which achieves the best balance of your thinking and others’ ideas.

You should summarize much more often than you quote or paraphrase because when you summarize, you show that you:

  • understand others’ ideas; and
  • can synthesize and connect those ideas in order to support your argument.


Correct referencing techniques require that you acknowledge the source of your information in two places:

  • in the text of your assignment, at the point where you use someone else’s ideas; this is known as in-text referencing or citation;
  • in a list at the end of your assignment; this is known as a Works Cited (MLA) or a Reference list (APA & CT).

The purpose of referencing is:

  • to avoid being accused of plagiarism by acknowledging the works of others you have used;
  • to enable your reader to locate the ideas used and items referred to in your writing.

There are many different referencing styles; those commonly used at Taft College are:

In-text referencing

Examples of each style:


In The Prince, Machiavelli says that a prince should "endeavor to avoid those things which would make him the object of hatred and contempt" (64).


Booth (2011) stressed simplicity in the creation of instructional objects.


The power of technology goes beyond individual inventions because technology "begets more technology." It is, as Diamond puts it, an "autocatalytic process" (301).

Common knowledge

You don't need to provide a reference for common knowledge – that is, information shared by many people. It is sometimes difficult to know what is and what is not common knowledge in your field of study. If you read or hear the same information many times from different sources, it is probably common knowledge. Common knowledge usually includes major historical events, famous people and geographic areas that are known about by educated people throughout the world, not just in the country in which they occurred.

If the information is not common knowledge, you should provide a reference. This shows your reader that the idea is held by an expert in the field. It also demonstrates to your lecturer that you have been reading academic texts.

When in doubt, provide a reference.


To quote correctly, be sure to:

  • use quotation marks;
  • copy the exact words;
  • give reference details, including the page/paragraph number.


To paraphrase correctly, be sure to:

  • keep the meaning;
  • change the word order;
  • change most of the words;
  • give reference details.


To summarize correctly, be sure to:

  • keep the author’s main ideas;
  • avoid simply copying the author’s words;
  • make it clear which ideas are yours, and which are the author’s;
  • give reference details.


To in-text reference correctly, be sure to:

  • make it clear which ideas are yours, and which are the author’s;
  • give the author’s last name;
  • give the year of publication;
  • give the page/paragraph number (unless you are referring to ideas presented in the publication as a whole).

Am I Plagiarising?

It is quite acceptable to discuss your studies with other students and to ask other people for certain kinds of help. However, it isn’t acceptable to ask other people to do your work for you. It is important to avoid any form of plagiarism and/or cheating.

Still not sure if you are doing the right thing? Here are some scenarios that may help you decide.

Examples of unacceptable student conduct



My roommate and I write our assignments together and since we’re in different sections of the same course, we can just hand in the same assignment and change the name on the cover sheet.


If it’s an individual assignment, it should be your own individual work. If not, this is considered cheating.


I’ve seen notices around the campus advertising help with assignment writing. If I pay what they ask, that’s not plagiarism, is it? It’s not like I’m stealing.


It’s passing someone else’s work off as your own. This is an example of cheating.


I have a really good memory. I remember most of what I read although I can’t always remember where I read it. My essays are usually full of memorized passages. That’s not plagiarism, is it?


If you are using someone else’s words, you should put those words in quotation marks and provide reference details. If not, this is plagiarism.

This is my first year at Taft College. My friend took this class last year. I read his final paper for the class, and it was really good. I copied a few paragraphs because he explained the problem and solution so well. That’s not really plagiarism, is it?

Copying from a friend’s assignment is considered to be cheating.


I always do the research for my assignments and make notes on what should be in the answer, but I get my sister to write the final report because her English is much better than mine. That’s acceptable, isn’t it?


If someone else writes an assignment for you, it is their work not yours. You are passing off someone else’s words as your own. This is considered cheating.

My boyfriend has had some family problems this semester and has had to make several trips home. Because of that, he’s had to work more hours in his part-time job. To help him out, I wrote part of his assignment for him. I won’t be in trouble, will I?


A student who assists another student beyond the boundaries of legitimate co-operation can also be penalized. This is a form of collusion and is considered cheating.



Examples of acceptable student conduct



My roommate and I are doing the same subjects and so we talk about what we’re reading and learning about in class.


Discussing your subject is a good way of consolidating your learning.


I’m not always sure if I’ve structured my assignment in the way required, so I sometimes make an appointment to see a tutor to get some guidance.


If you’re unsure about how to structure an assignment, it’s a good idea to get some advice.

Sometimes I make careless spelling mistakes when I type my assignments. I can’t always find them when I read my assignments because I’m usually concentrating on the meaning. It’s OK to ask someone to proofread my assignment for typing mistakes, isn’t it?


Asking a friend to proofread is not plagiarism or cheating. In fact, it’s a good idea to ask someone else to check your writing for typing mistakes.



All borrowed information must be cited—even if researchers put the information in their own words. Ethical researchers always give credit to the source where they found the information. The three methods of presenting borrowed information are quotation, paraphrase, and summary. The examples below use MLA in-text citations and refer to an MLA works cited entry (see below).

And for what? To put the money in a bank.

Nonprofit insurance companies (or hospitals) have no shareholders to give the profits to. They make money to build

bigger buildings and to pa top executives more, and that is it. For those who want to make a lot of money, health care is a great place, because very few people are willing to say no when it comes to their health, regardless of the cost involved. Today, the market has never been better for making money. Health care companies keep coming up with new procedures, products, and ills--and they keep persuading us we have to have them. So we keep buying them.

Frankly, since someone else has always been picking up the tab, few of us have had reason to care until recently.

But now the bill s falling back onto our own plate.


Patrick Rooney and Dan Perrin assert, "For those who want to make a lot of money, health care is a great place, because very few people are willing to say no when it comes to their health, regardless of the cost involved [...] But now the bill is falling back on [the public's] own plate" (12).

NOTE: Ellipsis dots are used to denote omissions in quotations. Three dots are used to signify that part of a sentence is missing, and four are used when the end of at least one sentence has been omitted. Brackets are used to show any changes in a quote. The changes should never change the meaning of the original passage.


Rooney and Perrin claim that the "health care" industry is enticing for those who re seeking big salaries. Since patients rarely refuse treatment, no matter how much that treatment may cost, the medical industry can be very profitable. However, now those cost are a much bigger concern for consumers (12).

NOTE: Selected words or phrases may be quoted in paraphrase or summary.


Rooney and Perrin argue that the "health care" industry is exceedingly profitable (12).

NOTE: A source introduction of the author or authors clearly identifies the beginning of borrowed information and eliminates the need for the authors' names in the parenthetical in-text citation at the end of the information. This is an example of using an apt phrase from the original text and adding your own analysis with correct citation information.

Works Cited Entry: A corresponding entry on the works cited page should always be included:

Rooney, J. Patrick, and Dan Perrin. America’s Health Care Crisis Solved: Money-Saving Solutions, Coverage for 

           Everyone. John Wiley & Sons, 2008. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost),

(Note: check with your professor regarding including the permalink for an eBook)

Credits and Acknowledgements

Examples for in-text referencing are taken from A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing.

This guide was modified from UTS: Avoiding Plagiarism: Real-life Scenarios