How to Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarizing something means copying facts, ideas, and/or words without giving credit to the person from whom you got the information. Authors' words, opinions, statistics, facts, and information require either a footnote, quotation marks, and/or an in-text parenthetical reference giving credit to the person who wrote the information.

Here is a paragraph taken from Jack Gannon's The Week the World Heard Gallaudet.

Astrid Goodstein, a Gallaudet faculty member, entered the beauty salon for her regular appointment proudly wearing her DPN button. ("I was married to that button that week!" she later confided.) When Sandy, her regular hairdresser, saw the button, he spoke and gestured, "Never! Never! Never!" Offended, Astrid turned around and headed for the door, but stopped short of leaving. She decided to keep her appointment, confessing later that at that moment her sense of principles had lost out to her vanity. Later she realized that her hairdresser had thought she was pushing for a deaf U.S. President!


Suppose you want to use information from the above paragraph in your paper. The easiest way to avoid plagiarizing would be to use quotation marks to indicate that the words you use are not your own.

  • If your quote contains less than 40 words, use quotation marks and either a footnote or an in-text parenthetical reference.

"Astrid Goodstein, a Gallaudet faculty member, entered the beauty salon for her regular appointment proudly wearing her DPN button" (Gannon 187).

  • If you want to use the entire passage, and the quote will contain more than 40 words, start a new line and indent the whole quotation 5 spaces from the left margin. Do not use quotation marks. Give credit to the author by either using a footnote or an in-text parenthetical reference.

Jack Gannon tells of a funny story that happened to a deaf teacher during DPN:

Astrid Goodstein, a Gallaudet faculty member, entered the beauty salon for her regular appointment proudly wearing her DPN button. ("I was married to that button that week!" she later confided.) When Sandy, her regular hairdresser, saw the button, he spoke and gestured, "Never! Never! Never!" Offended, Astrid turned around and headed for the door, but stopped short of leaving. She decided to keep her appointment, confessing later that at that moment her sense of principles had lost out to her vanity. Later she realized that her hairdresser had thought she was pushing for a deaf U.S. President! (Gannon 187)


When you paraphrase, you must give credit to the author.
Paraphrasing means summarizing someone else's ideas in your own words. This is a valuable writing technique, but if proper credit is not given to the author, plagiarism occurs.

Unacceptable paraphrase:

Astrid Goodstein who is a Gallaudet faculty member came into the beauty salon with her DPN button. Her hairdresser, Sandy, saw the button and said, "Never! Never! Never!" Astrid, feeling offended, went to the door but she changed her mind and went ahead with her appointment. Later, she began to understand that her hairdresser thought she was rallying for a deaf U.S. President.

Acceptable paraphrase:

Astrid Goodstein's hairdresser, Sandy, misinterpreted her DPN button as her rally for the future deaf U.S. President (Gannon 187).

Four important rules to remember in order to avoid plagiarizing something:

  1. Your instructor is your best resource if you have any questions regarding whether or not your information is documented accurately.

  2. Put a footnote or an in-text citation at the end of any idea or fact which you found in a book or article, whether or not you change the words.

  3. Exact quotations should either be put in quotation marks or indented and a footnote or in-text citation should be used to indicate the source.

  4. When in doubt, go ahead and document the source.

*Important note: Documenting sources helps your reader find more information as well as helping you avoid plagiarism.

 

Source: Gannon, Jack. The Week the World Heard Gallaudet.
Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University
Press, 1989.

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