Online Guide to Writing and Research

Chapter 5: Academic Integrity and Documentation

Avoiding Plagiarism

You can avoid charges of plagiarism by following some essential guidelines in researching and writing your research paper:

  • Always start by stating your own research question or thesis or by restating your assignment clearly and completely in your own words.
  • Keep accurate records of the sources you use, noting all the pertinent information about each source and whether you have quoted from it, summarized it, paraphrased it, or commented on it.
  • Clearly understand how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize information you borrow and understand how to integrate this information in your paper.
  • If you don’t understand the source material, don’t use it in your paper.
  • Find out which style guide you should use and use it consistently.
  • Review your final written paper looking for changes in your writing style or thinking that might signal that you are using a borrowed source.

Chapters 3 and 4 of this guide discuss in more detail how to state your research question, restate your assignment, and derive a working thesis. In this chapter, we will describe how to keep accurate records and will discuss style guides. Finally, this chapter offers you examples of how to quote, paraphrase, and summarize information and cite the source.