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Avoiding Plagiarism: Principles and Resources

By Barbara Gastel | Jan. 12, 2009  | None

Greetings again. I hope you had a good week.

As you may recall, last week’s posting discussed using images from elsewhere. The main points were to (1) obtain permission (unless the source says permission isn't needed) and (2) indicate the source of the image.

Using an image from elsewhere without indicating the source is a form of plagiarism. It also is plagiarism to include others’ ideas in your writing without indicating the source.

Similarly, including text, such as sentences, that others have written is plagiarism unless you both

  • show, by quotation marks or indentation, that the text is being directly quoted 
  • cite the source

If you want to quote a long passage, permission may be needed. Generally, it is best to put the material in your own words (paraphrase it) and cite the source.

Avoiding plagiarism when writing for English-language journals can be especially challenging for some international authors. One reason is that thinking of one’s own wording in a foreign language can be difficult. Another reason is that some cultures don't have a strong tradition of stating the sources of material included in writing.

Some US universities—including Purdue University, Indiana University, and Texas A&M University—have posted advice for avoiding plagiarism. Although this advice is intended mainly for students, it also can help researchers. The Texas A&M University material includes a link to guides for citing sources in various styles.

Do you have advice for avoiding plagiarism? If so, please share it by posting a comment.


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