Avoiding Plagiarism

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 11709

Would you be upset if someone stole stuff from your backpack or copied your homework and claimed credit for it? That's what plagiarism is: stealing someone else's ideas and words as if they're yours!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


"Copying" and "borrowing" seem like innocent enough words. But when you copy or borrow words while writing, it is considered plagiarism, a serious offense. Learn strategies to avoid committing this writing crime!

no plagiarism

Writing a research paper is a lengthy process that requires a large amount of work and time.

  • Do you know what can negate all of that work in an instant?

Plagiarism, the most offensive of the offenses in the writing world!

Before getting too involved, if you need to view or review the previous Related Lessons from the introduction to the thesis in our Writing a Research Paper series, find them in the right-hand sidebar.

Let's start this lesson by defining plagiarism. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to plagiarize means

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own.
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source.
  • to commit literary theft.
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
  • What else should you know?

You MUST avoid it! It's not only frowned upon in the academic world, but it illegal to plagiarize. Read more about it by visiting this great resource, What is Plagiarism?, on Plagiarism.org. This is need-to-know information, so take notes while you read each of the articles and resources in this lesson.

Plagiarism comes at a high cost. Common consequences of plagiarism include a failing grade for the assignment, a failing grade for the class, expulsion from school, and legal action. Read the New York Times article, Plagiarism Costs Degree for Senator John Walsh, by Jonathan Martin.

There are actually a few different types of plagiarism. Read about them in the article, Types of Plagiarism, retrieved from Turnitin, LLC.

  • Did anything on the list surprise you?
  • Which do you think is the easiest type to do accidentally?

Discuss these questions with your parent or teacher. Compare that information with this UK Dissertation Writers video that introduces a few additional types of plagiarism to your growing list: Learn What Counts As Plagiarism To Avoid It:


Now that you know what it is, you can learn how to avoid it. Three methods for avoiding plagiarism are summarizing, paraphrasing, and directly quoting. Read more from plagiarism.org in the article, Preventing Plagiarism when Writing. Next, read 3 Ways to Avoid Plagiarism - Summary, Paraphrase and Quote [video], at WriteCheck.com, Turnitin, LLC., and watch the short video on the site.

For more guidance on how to decide if you should summarize, paraphrase, or quote, go to Quoting and Paraphrasing, provided by the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Read through How to Avoid Plagiarism and Paraphrasing vs. Quoting - Explanation.

In addition to summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting, writers must also use in-text citations to give credit to the source of the information. Any time you summarize, paraphrase, or quote, it is necessary to cite the information. Follow these five guidelines to determine when it is necessary to cite your information:

  1. When presenting a fact that is NOT common knowledge, always cite the source.
  2. When writing about an idea, make clear whose idea it is.
  3. When writing about someone else's ideas, always cite the source.
  4. When using someone else's exact words, use quotation marks.
  5. When paraphrasing, use completely different wording, and always cite the source.

The Golden Rule for avoiding plagiarism is, "Give credit where credit is due!"

Apply this rule in the Got It? section as you take quizzes and analyze notes to detect for plagiarism.

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