• How to Avoid Plagiarism: FAQs

    Bad idea. Don't plagiarize, ever.

    How do I avoid plagiarism?

    The easiest, and most common, way to avoid plagiarism is to always cite your sources.

    Another method is to obtain written permission from the original content's creator and note it in your work. This method is less common and used in certain situations.

    What is not considered plagiarism?

    The proper format of:

    • Paraphrases
    • Direct Quotes
    • Any audiovisual material (E.g. artwork, song clips)

    including citations!

    Can I use something I previously created?

    Yes, as long as you cite yourselfSelf-plagiarism happens when you use content you originally created but don't cite your original content in the new work. Original content is what was created the first time, not anytime thereafter.

    Can I be accused of plagiarism if I cite my sources?

    It depends on the situation. Make sure everything is cited properly. Paraphrase as much as you can. Use direct quotes as needed (include the quotation marks!). Try to avoid using too much of one source.

    Remember to make the interpretations and thoughts your own with supporting evidence!

    Is everything copyrighted?

    Not always. Some information is considered common knowledge, which are pieces of information either the general population or certain groups would know. For example,

    • The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C.
    • Bananas are a source of potassium.
    • Physicists and Chemists recognize PV=nRT as the ideal gas law.

    Some information is located on the public domain, which means it is information not protected by copyright laws BUT you still need to cite it.

    If you create content and are not sure if everyone will recognize a piece of information (or if you have to look up information yourself), it is a good practice to cite it anyway.

    What makes the Creative Commons License different?

    Creative Commons is a type of copyright licensing that allows people to share their work and let that work be easily reused. It is a free legal resource. They offer different types of licensing depending on the type of permission creators allow others to use their work.

    For example, one license type allows people to "distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator" and use commercially (E.g. make money).

    For example, another license allows people to "distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms."

    Sometimes, content does not require users to formally cite the creator, BUT it is always polite and a best practice to cite Creative Commons creators. 


    "About CC Licenses." Creative Commonscreativecommons.org/about/cclicenses/, Access 11 March 2022.

    What if the author is unknown?

    There are two ways to address this.

    1. Sometimes the author is defined as "Unknown" or "Anonymous." It is perfectly fine to use either of those terms in place of an author's name in a citation. *Only use these terms if they are defined in the content.*
    2. Sometimes an organization is the author because it was a collective group effort to create the content in general. It is perfectly fine to label an organization as an author.

    What if the author and date are unknown?

    Examine the content as a whole. Can you find other citable information that could possibly replace certain components of a citation?

    Look for things like an organization name or a copyright year.

    If you cannot find anything, reconsider using that source.


    Inspiration for this FAQ section are source from these websites:

    "Frequently Asked Questions - The Citadel Plagiarism Policy." The Citadelcitadel.edu/root/plagiarism-faq, Accessed 10 March 2022.

    "Frequently asked questions about plagiarism." University of Bradford Library, 2022, bradford.ac.uk/library/find-out-about/plagiarism/frequently-asked-questions-about-plagiarism/, Accessed 10 March 2022.