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Excellence in Scholarship, Citations & Avoiding Plagiarism: Avoid Plagiarism

Excellence in Scholarship

Excellence in scholarship includes many things. Academic honesty, integrity and correct citations are part of excellent scholarship.

What is Plagiarism?

“Plagiarism includes the copying of the:

•Programming or computer code,
•ideas, and/or thoughts of another

 . . . and passing off the same as one's own original work, or attempts thereof.”


Complete text of  II.Academic Misconduct, B.Plagiarism from Virginia Tech's Undergraduate Honor Code


Plagiarism includes the copying of the language, structure, programming, computer code, ideas, and/or thoughts of another and passing off the same as one's own original work, or attempts thereof.

Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

II. B. 1. Using another person’s words verbatim without appropriate quotation marks and citation, as appropriate to the discipline.

II. B. 2. Paraphrasing the work of another without appropriate citation, as appropriate to the discipline.

II. B. 3. Using a thesaurus or similar reference in order to substitute words for the words used by a source and then passing off the results as one’s own work.

II. B. 4. Attempting to receive credit for work performed by another, including papers obtained in whole or in part from individuals or other sources.

II. B. 5. Failing to cite resources (print or electronic) if they are utilized in any way as source material in an academic exercise.

General information pertaining to plagiarism:

  • Faculty members are responsible for identifying any specific style/format requirement for the course. Examples include, but are not limited to, American Psychological Association (APA) style, Modern Languages Association (MLA) style, Chicago style, and Bluebook style.
  • Direct Quotations: Every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks or appropriate indentation and must be properly acknowledged in the text by a citation or in a footnote or endnote.
  • Paraphrases: Prompt acknowledgment is required when material from another source is paraphrased or summarized, in whole or in part, in one's own words. To acknowledge a paraphrase properly, one might state "To paraphrase Locke's comment" and then conclude with a footnote, endnote, or another citation identifying the exact reference.
  • Borrowed Facts: Information gained from reading or research, which is not common knowledge, must be acknowledged.
  • Common Knowledge: Common knowledge includes generally known facts, such as the names of leaders of prominent nations, basic scientific laws, etc. Materials that add only to a general understanding of the subject may be acknowledged in the bibliography and need not be footnoted or endnoted.
  • Footnotes, Endnotes, and In-text Citations: One footnote, endnote, or in-text citation is usually enough to acknowledge indebtedness when a number of connected sentences are drawn from one source. When direct quotations are used, however, quotation marks must be inserted and acknowledgment made for each instance. Similarly, when a passage is paraphrased, acknowledgment is required.

Practicing Good Scholarship

For direct quotations:

1.Enclose all copied material in quotation marks (or as an indented block) and indicate its source. 

2. Use direct quotations sparingly. The vast majority of the paper should be original work. 

For paraphrases:

1.Change the form of the original, including sentence structure and vocabulary (if possible). 
2.Reference the original source material. 
3.Avoid paraphrasing sentence by sentence. Combine the ideas in an original way. A good practice is to write the paraphrase without looking at the source. 
4.Be selective in what you decide to paraphrase. Be as concise as you can. 
5.Remember that although the ideas come from someone else, thus requiring your documentation of the source, the paraphrase is your own work. 

Checking Your Work

After writing a rough draft, be sure that:

1.Direct quotations have “  ,” (or are indented as a block), and have a citation, and reference at the end of your work.

2.Paraphrases meet the following criteria:

a. Accurately represent the original meaning and emphasis.

b. Sound different from the original source material. 

c. Integrate with, but are distinguished from, your own discussion in the text.

d. Properly documented (i.e. the source of the material is referenced).