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Citations: Avoid Plagiarism

What Students Should Know

What is Plagiarism?

Stealing thoughts or ideas and expressing them as your own.  A form of cheating and scholarly dishonesty which could result in a variety of penalties.

Are there degrees of plagiarism?

Yes, although all are equal in form of punishment.  An example of blatant plagiarism is purchasing or borrowing an entire paper, either through online companies selling research papers or borrowing from a friend.  Other degrees include something as simple as verbatim using words and sentences from an article, book, or other resources without giving credit to the source.  

Types of Plagiarism:


Is Paraphrasing Acceptable?

Paraphrasing is often described as writing a passage of text "in your own words." Instead of transcribing the text word for word, you are translating the ideas of the author and infusing them with your own insights. Even though you are not copying the text, you are still using the author's idea in your writing and you should therefore cite it just as you would if you were quoting.  When writing a research paper, you must think through ideas and share them in relation to your own experience.  When generating your own thoughts about a subject, you are creating a product of your own mind. However, you must give credit to the author from where the original idea came from.

How best do I avoid plagiarism?

The safest way to avoid plagiarism, including accidentally, is to take good notes while researching, do not pull thoughts verbatim from articles without citing, cite any time you share an idea of another- even if in a paraphrased form, and most importantly- when in doubt cite!

What Consequences can come with Plagiarism?

Not only can plagiarism result in a failed research paper, but it could result in a failed class. The consequences of plagiarism extend further than your success in one course. Plagiarism can result in dismissal from school, and can even prevent you from reentering college anywhere.  Higher education has a right to ensure the integrity of the college degrees it awards and therefore cannot give students credit for work that is not their own. This would devalue the integrity of the degrees others have received honestly. 

Examples of the consequences of plagiarism include a UNLV professor who was fired for repeated plagiarism and a senator who quit the Montana race after being charged with plagiarism.

Did You Know?


Did you know you can plagiarize yourself?  This self-plagiarism means that you use a previous work you've created and reuse it in part or whole to complete a new assignment without citing yourself.  Yes, you must cite even yourself when using previous works you created.

Additional Plagarism Resources

SSCC's Plagarism Policy


Plagiarism can be defined as copying someone else’s words or ideas and passing it off as your own. This includes copying material from the internet, books, videos and all copyrighted material without expressing permission and proper documentation*.

Some examples of plagiarism include:

1. Reproducing another person’s words, published or unpublished, as one’s own.

2. Permitting another person to alter substantially one’s written work.

3. Failing to acknowledge the ideas or words of another person, including verbatim use of another’s words without proper documentation or paraphrasing another’s words without proper documentation*.

4. Using material from the internet, videos, encyclopedias, books, magazines, newspapers, student papers and copyrighted material without indicating where the material was found.

*"Proper documentation" is a written acknowledgement, such as the use of quotation marks and footnotes, that alert a reader to the fact that the words or ideas are not that of the writer.

Plagiarism can result in failure on an examination or paper, failure in a course, suspension for up to two semesters, dismissal from the college for one year and/or possibly civil penalties.