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Savvy Scholar Workshops

A guide to library research workshops for WSU undergraduate students, graduate students, teaching assistants and instructors.

Avoiding Plagiarism

The first known use of the word plagiarism was in 1621. Plagiarism is defined as "the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person." -- Merriam Webster Dictionary

Keep in mind that the written word is not the only thing that needs to be credited. The spoken word, drawings, photographs, graphs, statistics, movies, etc. are all original concepts and when used in research must be credited back to the original sources (from the Indiana University Writing Tutorial).

Plagiarism can be either intentional or accidental.

Intentional plagiarism happens most commonly when parts of several sources are put together to create a new work in an attempt to disguise plagiarism. It can also happen if you don't cite your own previous work, and presenting someone else's work as your own.

Accidental plagiarism occurs when part of the citation is left out or the citation has incorrect information. It can also happen when quotation marks are left off with the use of word-for-word phrases.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources correctly!

The citation style used will depend on the requirements of your Professor. If you are not sure about which style to use, ask! There are several citation styles but some of the most popular are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago Style. Additional information about the citation styles and how to use them can be found on the Style Manuals guide.

There are several citation tools available to help you with citing your sources and creating a bibliography. EndNote is a software program available to WSU students, faculty, and staff on the myWSU portal. An EndNote library guide was created to help you download and use EndNote.

There are additional tools that can help with citation creation on the Internet. A few examples are Zotero, Son of Citation Machine, UNC Citation Builder, and Bibme

For more information on avoiding plagiarism see the Avoiding Plagiarism guide

So what if you plagiarize? What's the worst that can happen?

There are academic and professional consequences to plagiarizing. Academically, you could fail your assignment or your class or be suspended or expelled from the University. Professionally, you will lose your credibility. You could also lose your job or find it difficult to find another job. It could affect your ability to get grants and could lead to legal action.

For additional information on ethics and research see the Copyright and Ethical Use page on the Plagiarism library guide.

Additional sources for plagiarism information:

Use these resources to create citations and manage your bibliographies.

WSU Resources

Academic Integrity refers to honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Both students and faculty are held to standards.

Prohibited conduct:

  1. Plagiarism
  2. Unauthorized use of possession of materials of resources
  3. Unauthorized collaboration or consultation
  4. Fabrication, falsification or misrepresentation of information
  5. Academic interference
  6. Unauthorized resubmission
  7. Facilitation of academic misconduct
  8. Bribery
  9. Unauthorized sale, distribution, or receipt of academic materials
  10. Research misconduct as identified in Policy 9.13/Misconduct in Research

WSU has a review board that is responsible for reviewing research involving human subjects. It is also responsible for enforcing the requirement of informed consent. This is to assure that the rights of those who participate in research conducted by WSU students, faculty, and staff are protected. The IRB website is at

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