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Home Research Guides Avoiding Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Failing to give credit when you use someone else’s words, work, or ideas is a serious breach of ethics called plagiarism, or cheating. Purchasing an essay from an online service or borrowing something your roommate wrote for another class are also considered dishonest and forms of plagiarism.

Avoid plagiarism by keeping careful documentation when taking notes, and citing any quoted or paraphrased text, images, or other borrowed information.

Why cite?

The purpose of citing sources is to:

  • Give credit to the authors or the sources you use
  • Add credibility to the facts you state
  • Enable anyone who uses your work to locate these sources and determine their validity

This makes it very important to include accurate information and double check your citations. It is also important that citations are uniform in style so that readers can properly interpret their meaning.

Citation styles vary but the important thing is that whichever citation style is used, it is applied consistently and uniformly.

The Modern Language Association (MLA), The American Psychological Association (APA), and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS or also called Turabian) are three of the style manuals used on many college campuses. Other styles may be required by specific disciplines.

Citation tools

Now that you have your research complete, you’ll want to make sure you have everything properly cited, because like clichés, accusations of plagiarism are something you should avoid like the plague. The tools below will help you to keep track of your sources and cite them properly when the time comes.

EndNote Web

Try using EndNote Web software to organize your citations and instantly create properly formatted bibliographies. This is a web-based bibliographic service for students and researchers


This Facebook application from the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) lets you search the world’s largest library catalog by title, author, subject, or ISBN and get properly formatted citations in APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, or Turabian style.


EasyBib is one of the most popular online bibliographic tools, letting you automatically create citations in APA, Chicago/Turabian, and MLA styles. Over 218 million citations have been generated using the site since 2001.


Free Automatic Easy Bibliography Generator. Fast! MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian. In addition to building a works cited, the site also gives you a permanent URL you can reference.


Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work – in the web browser itself.