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Avoiding Plagiarism: Avoiding Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

How to Avoid Plagiarism (content from Indiana University)

To avoid accusations of plagiarism, give credit whenever you use:

  • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge;
  • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or
  • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.

Other tips include:

  • Keep track of the source of information or ideas that you find in the publications/works of others (author, article title, journal name, book publisher, publication date).
  • Record the URL where you found information and the date when you accessed the website.  
  • Don't get rid of the above information until the paper has been graded.  
  • Be sure to cite your sources properly. Find out what publication style you should follow, which will differ by discipline (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.) (See Citing Sources for examples.)

(See also - Avoiding Copyright Infringement)

Note:  Copyright infringement and plagiarism are easy to detect with plagiarism software. Be sure to use quotation marks around direct quotations or indent long direct quotations. What you need to do will depend on the style guide you are following. In addition to clearly marking direct quotes, you also need to cite the source of the quotation. Instead of using direct quotations, you can also paraphrase the information you are citing. Remember that because it is not your idea, you must still cite the source of the information.

Additional Sources to Consult

Sources to Consult for Further Guidance on Avoiding Plagiarism

Anti-Plagiarism Software from ACCC

ACCC offers two anti-software packages, Safe Assign and iThenticate.

Safe Assign

Faculty may set up Safe Assign through Blackboard Learn.


Faculty and graduate students submitting theses and dissertations to the Graduate College may request accounts. Faculty and staff may request accounts through their college's research dean or designate. Graduate students should speak with their advisors about access.

Avoiding Copyright Infringement

When determining what content you can use directly from another source in your Thesis or Dissertation, you need to keep Fair Use in mind.   

While there may be arguments for fair use under educational purposes, keep in mind that your thesis or dissertation will become publicly accessible in INDIGO. One could argue using certain copyrighted material could have a potential effect on the market for that material. In addition, dissertations will be provided to ProQuest, which is a commercial publisher. Therefore, there will be a commercial market in which your work is presented. For those reasons, fair use may not be an argument for using copyrighted work without permission in your thesis or dissertation.

ProQuest/ UMI will be watching closely to ensure copyright clearance has been received for the following: 

  • Long quotations
  • Reproduced publications
  • Unpublished materials
  • Poetry
  • Dialogue from a play, screenplay, broadcast, or novel
  • Music
  • Graphic or pictorial works
  • Computer software
  • Sources located on the Internet

In cases where fair use arguments cannot be made, you need to request proper copyright permissions in order to include the copyrighted material in you work.   See below for Steps for Requesting Permission.

For more information see:

Requesting Permissions - Sample Letters

Copyright Advisory Office - Columbia University - Model Permission Letters