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SPAN 833: Survey of Spanish Literature I (to 1700)

Avoid Plagiarism Google Slides

About Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using someone else's ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. Sources of words and ideas come in many forms:

  • spoken words (conversation, interviews, lectures)
  • written words (emails, web pages, blogs, published and print materials, even Facebook messages and tweets)
  • multimedia (movies, music, photographs)
  • other ways to express ideas (drawings, graphs, maps, statistics, etc.)

A common misconception is that plagiarism means only using someone else's exact words, without giving proper credit. But plagiarism also includes using someone else's ideas, opinions without credit or even mixing multiple sources together or with your own ideas. According to Turnitin, here are some types of plagiarism:


Watch the following video for a more detailed overview:

Plagiarism is often accidental. The line between plagiarism and research can be fuzzy. If there is any doubt about whether or not you are using someone else's ideas, you can avoid any question of plagiarism by always citing your source. 

It does not matter if a failure to give proper credit was accidental or intentional. Any lack of credit, even accidental, is considered plagiarism.

Accidental Plagiarism: A student may inadvertently plagiarize as a result of his/her poor writing and research skills, misconceptions of what constitutes plagiarism, or cultural factors. Reasons for unintentional plagiarism include:

  • Lack of basic writing skills such as summarizing and summarizing external sources.
  • Confusion about citation rules like in-text citations, footnotes, bibliography…etc
  • Poor note-taking skills, leading to the student’s inability to differentiate between his/her own writing and outside sources that have been consulted during the research process.
  • Lack of library and research skills
  • Most westerners are familiar with the concept of intellectual property.  This is not the case for many international students who may see the idea of using someone’s words, ideas or concepts as a form of flattery.




All of us, faculty and students, draw from a vast range of ideas and findings in our work. This is a good thing! It allows us to learn and build on ideas and create new insights and knowledge.

The most important thing in this process is to give attribution -- to acknowledge the writing and ideas that have influenced us. Attribution shows respect and appreciation to people with interesting, challenging or worthwhile ideas. It's also useful; it allows others to find that source for themselves. 

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Common Knowledge


Common knowledge refers to information that:

  1. can be found in many of sources,
  2. you can safely assume your readers know, AND
  3. could be found in a general reference source.

Usually things that are common knowledge do not need to be cited. It is not always clear what information constitutes common knowledge, so if you're ever unsure, it's best to cite. Cal State San Marcos Library has more information on what constitutes common knowledge.

Paraphrasing and Quotations

Paraphrasing ideas from your source and using direct quotations, with correct citations, are two ways you can use others' ideas to support or enhance your work. This website has great tutorials and examples, and can help you develop good paraphrasing habits. 

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