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If you are looking for simple ways to prevent or detect plagiarism, Blackboard now incorporates Turnitin which allows either students or professors to submit a paper for inspection. Turnitin will issue a report detailing similarities between an uploaded paper and existing documents found either online or in a huge document database. By submitting their papers to Turnitin before they are officially submitted to their professors, students can make sure that their papers are plagiarism-free.

[Examples of Plagiarism]

Plagiarism is using the written or oral work of another without properly acknowledging the source of the information. Although it is necessary to examine the work of other writers and researchers to develop your own ideas and extend your knowledge, it is wrong to claim these ideas and words as your own. According to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville policy, "plagiarism is a serious academic offense. It may consist of copying, paraphrasing or otherwise using the written or oral work of another without acknowledging the source [by the proper use of quotation marks and reference citations], or it may consist of presenting oral or written course work prepared by another as one's own." Furthermore, academic sanctions for plagiarism typically include receiving an F in the class where the plagiarism occurred. Additional sanctions may result from cases of plagiarism including suspension, being dropped your undergraduate or graduate degree program, and even expulsion from the University. (See

This web page presents information on plagiarism to help you avoid it. This is not a comprehensive review of plagiarism. If you are interested in more information on the subject, you may want to refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2009).

The most common example of plagiarism is the use of written material without citing the source. This includes copying another person's writings without placing the words in quotation marks and citing the source or paraphrasing the writings of another without citing the author and source from which those ideas have been taken. Simply changing a few words or adding different punctuation to someone else's writing does not make it your own work. When you are unsure as to whether to cite a source it is generally better to err on the side of caution and cite the source. You can always check with your course instructor for clarification.

Another example of plagiarism is improperly using the work of others. Just as it is dishonest to copy or paraphrase the works of outside authorities without proper recognition, it is equally dishonest to submit the work of a fellow student or that of some other person as one's own. If two or more students work together on an assignment, all names should appear as authors on the report. Additionally, you should not submit a paper, or parts of a paper, written to fulfill the requirements of one class for the requirements in another class without prior approval of the current instructor and appropriate citation. This is an example of citing your own previous work:

Bartels, L., Jewell, J. & Rosnick, C. (2013). Self-plagiarism. Research Design and Statistics I, Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

While there are web sites that sell or otherwise distribute papers on various topics, submitting one of these papers for a class assignment, or even a portion of one, is plagiarism.

It is also important that you indicate in both oral presentations and written assignments when you use the words or ideas of another person. Plagiarism is most likely to result when your paper emphasizes the ideas of others rather than your own. Your psychology papers and reports should never consist of loosely-connected strings of unintegrated quotations and ideas from other authors. Instead, you must interpret research articles or writings and integrate them with your own ideas. In your writing, develop your own controlling idea, your own voice, and your own organizational structure. You should refer to other sources for supporting and developing your own ideas, but you should not rely on them as a substitute for your own thoughts and analyses.

There are many strategies you can use to avoid plagiarism. The following checklist for avoiding plagiarism can be found in The Holt Handbook (Kirszner & Mandell, 2002).

  • " Take careful notes. Be sure you have recorded information from your sources carefully and accurately."
  • " In your notes, put all words borrowed from sources inside circled quotation marks and enclose your own comments within brackets."
  • " In your paper, differentiate your ideas from those of your sources by clearly introducing borrowed material with a running acknowledgment and by following it with documentation."
  • " Enclose all direct quotations used in your paper within quotation marks."
  • " Review paraphrases and summaries in your paper to make certain they are in your own words and that any distinctive words and phrases from a source are quoted."
  • " Document all quoted material and all paraphrases and summaries of your sources."
  • " Document all facts that are open to dispute or are not common knowledge."
  • " Document all opinions, conclusions, figures, tables, statistics, graphs, and charts taken from a source" (pp. 279-280).

If you have any questions about plagiarism and how to avoid it, ask your psychology instructor.

American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Kirszner, L. G., & Mandell, S. R. (2002). The Holt handbook (6th ed.). Thomson-Heinle.

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