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Citing Sources: Intentional & Unintentional Plagiarism

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What is Plagiarism?

"Plagiarism" is presenting someone else's work as your own.

You are probably already somewhat familiar with this concept. However, did you know there are different types of plagiarism? We usually associate plagiarism with intentionally cheating and trying to take credit for something that is not our own work. However, sometimes we might do this without  being aware of it.

    Intentional plagiarism: knowingly cheating or intentionally presenting someone else's ideas, research, or words as your own.
    Unintentional plagiarism: not giving proper credit for someone else's ideas, research, or words even if you did not intend to present them as your own.

See our Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism.

Intentional Plagiarism

Intentional plagiarism is knowingly presenting someone else's ideas, research, words as your own. These are all examples of cheating, and these types of plagiarism carry very serious repercussions:

    • Copying/downloading/buying an entire paper or part of a paper that was written by someone else and turning it in with your name on it is plagiarism.

    • Intentionally not giving proper credit for a source: Intentionally incorporating someone else's concepts or words into your own paper without giving that person credit with a proper citation is plagiarism.

  • Self-plagiarism: Re-using a paper or research for more than one class or assignment when original work is expected is also inappropriate.

Did you know that there are dozens of simple software programs, services and web sites that allow instructors to detect plagiarism in student papers? It is also very easy to find plagiarized material simply by doing a Google search for a phrase or paragraph.  Every person has his or her own writing style, too, and it will be quite apparent to your instructor if you suddenly turn in something that sounds very different from your other assignments. It will also be quite obvious if portions of your paper do not match your own writing style. If you incorporate passages from another author, you must give the real author credit.

Quite simply, don't do it! Holy Family University expects original work from all students. If do not understand how to complete your assignment correctly, ask for help! Remember, this is a learning process, and there are many resources available to help you along the way.

Unintentional Plagiarism

Unintentional plagiarism is not giving proper credit for someone else's ideas, research, or words, even if it was not intentional to present them as your own. Even if it was not intentional, it is still plagiarism and not acceptable.

    • Accidentally failing to cite your sources correctly. Some students may plagiarize accidentally by failing to cite their sources correctly. If you are not sure how to correctly cite your sources, use the examples in this guide or ask for help.

    • Not citing paraphrased information. Some students believe that it is necessary to cite a source only if they use a direct quote. Not true! Putting someone else's idea into your own words does not turn it into your own work. You must give the original author credit even when you paraphrase. Paraphrasing well shows that you understand the meaning of the original passage.

    • Incorrectly paraphrasing. Your paraphrase must be sufficiently distinct from the original passage. Paraphrasing is not simply changing a word or two or rearranging the author's sentences (you might as well use the original passage in quotation marks). An effective paraphrase will convey the author's facts or conclusions accurately, but in your own unique style. Learn more about paraphrasing.

  • Unintentionally using a "source" from the web which is actually someone else's research paper (possibly posted so others may use it for cheating). Be very cautious when conducting research on the Web. Aside from websites with questionable content, you may encounter documents that appear scholarly but aren't. Check thoroughly for the source of the document--could it be another student's research paper? Or a paper posted by a "paper mill"--a site that sells research papers for the purpose of cheating? These are not considered scholarly sources and should be avoided. Learn more about Evaluating Sources on the Web.

This is not meant to make anyone nervous about writing papers. We understand how confusing and intimidating the citation style guide rules can be. However, it's important to recognize why we must put effort into citing sources correctly.

No one expects you to know all of the rules instantly. Use the examples in this guide as a starting point. If you are unsure about anything, ask for help!

Why Does Plagiarism Happen?

Plagiarism is a form of cheating and is unacceptable at Holy Family University. Why would students ever take the risks associated with plagiarism?

  • Procrastination/poor time management
  • Lack of confidence/lack of knowledge about how to begin or follow through with an assignment
  • Confusion as to when/how to cite sources
  • (Mistaken) belief that it's not plagiarism if it's been paraphrased
  • Temptation of readily available material on the Web

Don't let this happen to you. Ask for help or see our Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism.

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