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Plagiarism & Academic Honesty

Avoiding plagiarism

Why do we place such importance on avoiding plagiarism? Here's a list of reasons (Columbia College, 2020):

1. The value of originality in academic scholarship

In academic scholarship, your work must display some level of originality, which is accomplished by

  • Critically analyzing your sources rather than simply summarizing information
  • Inserting your voice into the writing, including your opinions/thoughts, instead of replicating the source style of writing
  • Drawing on your own experiences for context or to use as examples to support an argument

2. Employing critical analysis

Your assignments will require you to draw from a variety of sources, including scholarly peer-reviewed journals, and it is important that you read texts closely to determine gaps in the field of study and come up with your own research questions. Asking critical questions about texts is an expectation of the student scholar, even if the work is written by an expert in the field.

3. Academic writing is part of the scholarly conversation

The scholarship you create extends the scholarly conversation when you respond to and build upon what others have written. Citation shows that you acknowledge the ideas that came before and how they inform your work. Citation also makes it possible for readers to learn more about a topic.

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(Source: OWL Purdue)

A brief list of sources that must be credited:

  • Words or ideas presented in books, magazines, newspapers, audiovisual media (films, songs, television, YouTube, Instagram, etc.), websites, advertisements, or any other medium
  • Information gained from interviews or conversations with another person (either in person, writing, or over the phone)
  • Direct quotations or unique phrases
  • Reprinted diagrams, images, charts, or other visual materials
  • Reused or reposted digital media, including audio, video, images


San José State Library notes that proper paraphrasing is a multi-step process that entails:

"1. Reading the original passage,

 2. Understanding what the original author is saying,

 3. Synthesizing (putting together) the information,

 4. Expressing your understanding of these ideas in your own words and then

 5. Citing the original author."