What you should do

To avoid plagiarism you must give credit when:

  • You use another person's ideas, opinions, or theories.
  • You use facts, statistics, graphics, drawings, music, etc., or any other type of information that does not comprise common knowledge.
  • You use quotations from another person's spoken or written word.
  • You paraphrase another person's spoken or written word.

Here's what we recommend when you write:

  • Begin the writing process by stating your ideas; then go back to the author's original work.
  • Use quotation marks and credit the source (author) when you copy exact wording.
  • Use your own words (paraphrase) instead of copying directly when possible.
  • Even when you paraphrase another author's writings, you must give credit to that author.
  • If the form of citation and reference are not correct, the attribution to the original author is likely to be incomplete. Therefore, improper use of style can result in plagiarism. Get a style manual and use it.

The figure below may help to guide your decisions.

Job aid for writers to help avoid plagiarism 

Does the source (author) always have to be specific people?


A source could be a jointly developed entry in an encyclopedia that has been written by group of anonymous authors. For example, each Wikipedia entry is a group-edited source. See Wikipedia's entry for plagiarism.

The source could be text written by an artificially intelligent agent, such as ChatGPT. That AI agent, in turn, has generated written text that has been derived from pattern analysis of writings of millions of people.

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