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Plagiarism Guide

All of the examples are forms of plagiarism. According to the LSU Code of Student Conduct, " '[p]lagiarism' is defined as the unacknowledged inclusion of someone else's words, structure, ideas, or data... [f]ailure to identify any source (including interviews, surveys, etc.), published in any medium (including on the Internet) or unpublished, from which words, structure, ideas, or data have been taken, constitutes plagiarism."

A survey by the journal Psychological Record(1) found that 36% of undergraduates admitted to plagiarizing written material. Another study by the Center for Academic Integrity(2) found that nearly 80% of college students admitted to cheating at least once. In the article "Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism," Stephen Wilhoit theorizes that such high statistics are due to a lack of understanding on what constitutes plagiarism.

When researching a topic, you must cite your sources of information; that is, you must tell the reader where you found the information. There are a number of ways to cite information, depending on how you include that information in your paper or project.

1. Using someone else's words directly is called quoting; quotes must always be attributed to the source. When quoting an information source, put the phrase in quotation marks, and cite the source based on your chosen documentation style.

"The rowdy fans, party atmosphere and always competitive LSU football team helped Tiger Stadium recently be voted as the fan's top stadium in the country and ranked among the top 10 stadiums overall" (Mitchell 12).
2. You may also paraphrase information. In paraphrasing, you take the author's idea or information, but state it in your own words. Paraphrased information must also be cited.
LSU's Tiger Stadium was recently ranked among the top ten college football stadiums by Sporting News, and was voted the fans' number one choice (Mitchell 12).

3. One thing you do not need to cite is common knowledge. Generally, common knowledge is thought to be facts that virtually everyone knows. For example, LSU is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana would be considered common knowledge. However, defining common knowledge can be tricky; not everyone considers all of the same information as common. A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, cite your source.

Visit these web sites for more information on citing sources:

The Writing Center at Indiana University has a very helpful web site that further explains how to use quotes and paraphrasing in your research.

The LSU Libraries Ready Reference page gives links to online guides to numerous citation styles, including MLA, APA, and Turabian styles.

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab has posted a tutorial to help students decide when and how to give credit for information.


For further information about plagiarism:

Harris, Robert and Lockman, Vic. The Plagiarism Handbook: strategies for preventing, detecting, and dealing with plagiarism. Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2001.

Koljatic, Mladen and Silva, Monica. "Comparison of Students' and Faculty's Perceptions of Occurrence of Dishonest Academic Behaviors." Psychological Reports 90 (2002): 883.

Petress, Kenneth. "Academic Dishonesty: A Plague on our Profession." Education 123.3 (2003): 624.

Rajala, Judith. "Citation and Plagiarism." T H E Journal 30.4 (2002): 32.

(1) Roig, Miguel. "Can undergraduate students determine whether text has been plagiarized?" Psychological Record 47.1 (1997): 113. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. 28 July 2003.


Wilhoit, Stephen. "Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism." College Teaching 42.4 (1994): 16.