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Information Literacy and the Research Process: Plagiarism

This guide was created to address the information literacy general education outcome.


Step 1

What is plagiarism?

The definition of plagiarism is presenting the works or ideas of others as your own. An example of plagiarism is submitting a paper or project as your own original work when it is not. Plagiarism occurs in many forms and in varying degrees. Intentional plagiarism is the obvious form of plagiarism but the majority of plagiarism cases occur by accident.

Avoiding Plagiarism (CC) from PALNI on Vimeo.

The information in this section will make you aware of various forms of plagiarism and help you learn how it can be avoided.

Step 2

Academic Integrity at USF

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense and can result in expulsion from the University. Follow this link to read the USF policy on Academic Integrity. 

Step 3

Helpful Websites is an excellent resource for understanding what plagiarism is, how it can affect you, and how to avoid it. The site also includes links to webcasts and videos about academic integrity.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is another helpful website. Known as "The OWL", the Purdue OWL provides countless resources for citing sources and making sure proper credit is given to the authors and creators of your sources.

Step 4

Examples of plagiarism

  1. Copying any portion of a book, an article, a website, or any other resource word-for-word into your assignment.
  2. Buying, reusing, borrowing, or stealing a paper or project and submitting it as your own work.
  3. Paraphrasing incorrectly. When paraphrasing, word order is as important as word choice. Put ideas into your own words to show you understand a concept.
  4. Failure to include citations.
  5. Reusing an old paper or project, which is called self-plagiarism.

Step 5

Avoiding plagiarism

Follow these steps to avoid plagiarizing someone else's work. Remember that correctly citing all sources you use is the best way to prevent accidental plagiarism.

  1. Make sure you understand what constitutes plagiarism.
  2. Plan ahead when writing papers.
  3. Ask for help if you need it.
  4. Keep track of the resources you have used.
  5. Take thorough notes on your research.
  6. Correctly cite any and all sources you use in your project. 

Ask A Librarian

Ask A Librarian

If you have any questions about the Research Process, using library resources, or completing these modules, please contact one of our Reference Librarians via the contact information below. You can always call a librarian at 260.638.VANN (8266). Librarians are also available through text at 260.222.5054.


Reference Librarians

Kerri Killion-Mueller, MLIS

Reference & Instruction Librarian

260.399.7700, ext. 6046

Amber Pavlina, MA, MLS

Reference & Instruction Librarian

260.399.7700, ext. 6067





Lee & Jim Vann Library

Pope John Paul II Center

First and Second Floor

Room 101 & 201