Avoiding Plagiarism

To avoid plagiarism, University of Arkansas students need to understand the expectations for writing with integrity and to develop the skills needed to integrate sources and provide attribution.

Plagiarism as a general concept

Plagiarism is the act of taking the ideas or writing of someone else and passing them off as one’s own. In the university setting, the theft of language and ideas is an especially serious offense.

University of Arkansas Regulations

The University of Arkansas expects students to maintain a high level of academic integrity. We encourage students to visit the Academic Initiatives and Integrity site to read the university’s Integrity Policy and Sanction Rubric and to understand how plagiarism is defined on campus. We want highlight the important sections of the Rubric that address plagiarism.

  1. Do your own work. The Sanction Rubric says submitting work prepared by others is a violation: “Submitting as one’s own any theme, report, term paper, essay, computer program, speech, painting, drawing, sculpture, or other written or creative work or project of any nature prepared totally or in large measure by another /plagiarizing, in work completed for a class assignment, when that copying/plagiarizing constitutes less than 10% of the assignment and is a second offense, or when that copying/plagiarizing constitutes 10% or more of the assignment.”
  2. Paraphrase, quote, and cite sources properly. The Sanction Rubric describes all of the following as violations: “Submitting as one’s own work or plagiarizing is the offering as one’s own work, the words, ideas, or arguments of another person or using the work of another without appropriate attribution by quotation, reference, or footnote. Plagiarism occurs both when the words of another (in print, electronic, or any other medium) are reproduced without acknowledgement and when the ideas or arguments of another are paraphrased in such a way as to lead the reader to believe that they originated with the writer. It is not sufficient to provide a citation if the words of another have been reproduced – this also requires quotation marks.”
  3. Don’t recycle papers. The Rubric considers reuse of earlier work without permission a violation: “Submitting, without specific permission of the instructor, work that has been previously offered by the same student for credit in another course.”

Do your own work

Most students want to do their own work and submit good papers. The first step to avoiding plagiarism is avoiding situations that can lead to bad decisions. When you get a source-based writing assignment, plan ahead so that you have time to research, outline, draft, revise, cite sources, and proofread. You cannot perform all these steps the night before a paper is due. Start early, and if you need help at any stage, arrange a meeting with your professor or a Writing Studio Consultant.

Paraphrase, quote, and cite sources properly

When you paraphrase ideas and arguments from your sources, be careful to use your own words and sentence structures. You also need to make sure that your paraphrase is an accurate representation of the author’s ideas and includes a citation. If the language in your paraphrase is too close to the original or lacks citation, your passage could violate #2 above. When you include verbatim language from a source, be sure the quoted language is accurate, enclosed in quotation marks, and attributed to the author. Again, overlooking some or all of these issues of quotation could lead to problems with #2 above.

In addition to citing all paraphrased ideas and quoted language from your sources, you will need to provide attribution for a wide variety of other intellectual property incorporated into the work you submit. Providing proper attribution is key to writing with integrity and avoiding plagiarism. The following table of sources that do and do not require attribution is based Andrea Lunsford’s list found on pages 243-244 of The St. Martin’s Handbook (8th edition).

Need to provide attribution No attribution needed
Quoted language or paraphrased passages Your own ideas and language
Any ideas or arguments borrowed from a source Your own surveys
Graphs, tables, or data sets from a source Graphs, tables, or data sets you created
Visuals - photos, graphics, or videos from a source Visuals you created
Sound - audio recordings from a source Sound you created
Interview conducted by a source Interview you conducted yourself
Experiment conducted by source Your own field research
Help, advice, or ideas provided by others Common knowledge


As you advance in your major, you should acquire the style manual for your discipline. The most commonly used citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago. Each manual provides comprehensive guidelines on citing sources in text, documenting sources at paper’s end, formatting sample papers, and a wide variety of other style conventions. Additionally, each manual has Web support with supplemental information and tutorials for beginners.

If you are assigned a paper that requires skills and techniques with which you need assistance, ask for help. Most professors hold office hours and assist students outside of class. You also can check with the subject librarian in your discipline. The Subject Specialists’ page lists all the librarians by subject area. The University Libraries’ Citing Your Sources page has useful links to citation resources and bibliography management.

Don't recycle papers

Recycling paper will win you points in a sustainability competition but could land you in trouble when submitting course work. The paper you submitted on Hamlet in freshman composition cannot be reused for your world literature assignment. Professors expect you to undertake new work. If you want to write about Hamlet again, request a meeting with the world literature professor, take the Hamlet paper, and ask how you might extend the work to fit the new assignment. This should be taken seriously, especially with the increasing use of plagiarism-checking software and archival databases.

Works Consulted

Academic Initiatives and Integrity, home page. University of Arkansas. University of Arkansas, n.d. Web. 21 Sep. 2016.

Howard, Rebecca Moore. Writing Matters. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

Lunsford, Andrea A. The St. Martin’s Handbook. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2015. Print