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The Library and You: How to Make the Most Out of Your Vanderbilt Experience: Avoiding Plagiarism

    plagiarism, n.

The practice of taking some else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

-DERIVATIVES: plagiarist noun, plagiaristic adjective

- ORIGIN: early 17th century; from Latin plagiarius 'kidnapper' (from plagium 'a kidnapping', from Greek plagion) +ism.¹


Addtional Web Resources on Plagiarism

What's the Big Deal?

In this culture, we consider our words and ideas intellectual property: like a car or any other possession, we believe our words belong to us and cannot be used without giving credit.

Therefore, whenever you write a paper that requires research, you must tell your reader where you obtained any ideas or assertions that are not originally your own. Whether you quote directly or summarize the information, you must acknowledge your sources by citing them. In this way, you give that person credit for the work s/he has done.

Citing sources also encourages your readers to look beyond your paper for further information.  Just as you can follow citations in articles or books you find to follow the trail of scholarship back to earlier thinkers on the topic or on a related topic.

Types of Plagiarism

Regardless of your intent, each of the following constitutes plagiarism:


checkmarkDirect Plagiarism -- including a verbatim quotation without a proper citation

checkmarkParaphrasing without a citation...passing off the ideas of others as your own

checkmarkThe inclusion of graphics, tables, charts or web pages without proper acknowledgement

checkmarkTurning in the same paper for more than one class

See the "Citing Sources" tab for more information about how to credit your sources.

Some tips to help you avoid accidental plagiarism include:


checkmarkStart your research early -- procrastination can lead to last minute stress & sloppy work

checkmarkKeep notes or a bibliography of the sources you consult as you go -- it is easier than reconstructing it at the end.  Consider using a bibliographic management tool, such as EndNote or Zotero.

checkmarkVisit the Writing Studio for help on  incorporating your evidence & sources into your paper.

Visit the Writing Studio


Writing Studio Logo

The Writing Studio is a free and confidential writing resource for Vanderbilt students. Here, you have the opportunity to meet individually with trained consultants and talk about all kinds of writing concerns and projects.  

The Writing Studio also offers a number of resources for writers including handouts on argumentation, incorporating sources, and many more subjects.