Plagiarism FAQs – OHIO University Libraries

How do I clearly write what is my idea verses what my sources’ idea? In other words, how do I keep my voice?

This may take some practice. If you have a source that is just spot on and there is no way you could re-explain it or integrate it with another idea, then quote the reference directly. You can also paraphrase the quote to keep the original sources ideas true, but this utilizes your own words as well; double bonus. To make sure you are properly paraphrasing, you can practice this by explaining, out loud, the concept without looking at the source. Whatever you say out loud to describe the original concept is what you should include in your paper; no synonyms here, just your own words.

Are there some kinds of information that I do not need to document or cite directly?

You may be referring to common knowledge. Common knowledge is information that nearly everyone knows. This could refer to the general population as a whole or a specific area, age group or expertise.

If I put the information from my sources into my own words, do I still need to include citations?

Short answer, yes. Why-because you are still describing THEIR ideas, not your own. Just because you are using your own words does not mean that you created this idea.

Let’s say I do not know anything on the topic, can I turn in a paper that is mostly other sources?

This is not a good idea. The whole point of a paper or assignment is for the audience (your professor) to hear your voice and understand your thoughts on a topic. You will have to do some reading and research to learn more about the topic and then write about it. Use quotes from other sources to a minimum, they should not out-shine you. Also, you need to double check with your professor to ensure you are on the right track and ensure your understand what they are looking for in your paper.

Do I have to cite myself?

If you have written another paper and you are using bits and pieces of it in this paper, then yes. Self-plagiarism is the act of presenting your work that has been done in the past as if it were completed in the present. Even if your paper was not published, you should cite yourself. This is a grey area and there are times when you do not need to cite yourself, so double check with your professor.

Will I go to jail if I plagiarize?

No, you will not go to jail for plagiarism, but you may fail the class or be kicked out of the program depending on how severe the act. Please see Ohio University’s Code of Conduct for more information.

How can I double check my work for plagiarism?

The most important thing you can do is to understand what plagiarism is and so knowing how to not plagiarize. However. There are many helpful tools for you to utilize, one being Google. Copy and paste a couple paragraphs into Google and see if there is an exact match. Furthermore, there are many programs out there that their sole purpose is to check for plagiarism, such as: WriteCheck, DupliChecker, etc.

If I just change some words, is that plagiarizing? Do I need to cite?

Yes, this is plagiarism if you do not cite your source. By simply changing some of the words to some synonyms, you are still using that sources ideas, not your own through process.

Do I have to cite sources for every fact I use in the paper?

No you do not need to cite every fact. Facts that are common knowledge, things that nearly everyone knows, you do not need to cite.

If I cite a source, can I still be accused of plagiarism?

As long as the source is cited correctly, you should be just fine. Please make sure that your citations and references are correct so you are giving proper credit.