MLA Documentation Guide: Avoiding Plagiarism


Plagiarism is the use of source material without giving credit. In other words, plagiarism is either knowingly or unknowingly representing someone else’s words or ideas as your own. Improperly documenting source material, though a less severe offense, is still technically plagiarism and represents academic dishonesty. This guide provides some ways to avoid inadvertant plagiarism and principles to follow as you incorporate source material into your writing.


The DON'Ts that will help you avoid plagiarism (or "Academic Dishonesty")


1) DON'T include "direct borrowings" of words from a source inside your own writing without putting those words in quotation marks

                        --example 1

                        --example 2

                        --example 3


2) DON'T include a paraphrase that is too close to the phrasing of the original



3) DON'T include information or direct borrowing inside your text without "documenting" it correctly



4) DON'T alter the original text; Quote EXACTLY  
(unless you clearly indicate cut or added text)
            -- example


See also these guides related to paraphrasing to avoid plagiarism:
Successful vs. Unsuccessful Paraphrases 
How to Paraphrase a Source