Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Preventing Plagiarism: A Guide for Students
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This guide pulls together a number of resources to assist you, the student, avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism can be an intentional or accidental act, but either way you can suffer severe consequences. These consequences are covered University Judicial System section of the Millikin Student handbook. (Scroll to the part labeled "Academic Integrity Standards.") If you have additional questions about plagiarism, contact you class instructor or a librarian.

Defining Plagiarism

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition defines the act of plagiarizing as: "To use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own." or "To appropriate for use as one's own passages or ideas from (another). intr. To put forth as original to oneself the ideas or words of another."


Books and resources which provide information on writing research papers and citing information generally include a definition of plagiarism:

"By definition, a research paper involves the assimilation of prior scholarship and entails the responsibility to give proper acknowledgment whenever one is indebted to another for either words or ideas. ... Failure to give credit is plagiarism." Turabian, Kate. L. A Manual for Writers of Termpapers, Theses, and Dissertations, sixth edition, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1996.

"Simply put, plagiarism is using others' ideas or words as if they were your own." Ballenger, Bruce. The Curious Researcher, second revised edition, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 1999.

"To use another person's ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the sources is to plagiarize. Plagiarism, then, constitutes intellectual theft. Strictly speaking, it is a moral and ethical offense rather than a legal one, since most instances of plagiarism fall outside the scope of copyright infringement, a legal offense." Gibaldi, Joseph, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. Modern Language Association of America, New York, 1999.

Although they may be worded slightly differently, they all state the same thing: Plagiarism is cheating!

The following are all examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying the words of others, whether from a source or another student.
  • Putting your name on a paper written by someone else.
  • Purchasing or downloading in paper from the Internet and turning it in.
  • Paraphrasing (rewriting in your own words) a source and not documenting it.
  • Not using quotations marks properly when using material from another source.


These links provide information on both avoiding and recognizing plagiarism:

  • A brief discussion on Avoiding Plagiarism has been written by Dr. Michael O'Conner of the English Department.

More in depth information is provided by the following two sites:

If you would like detailed information on the U.S. Copyright Law, our Copyright Information page will provide it.

Proper Citation Formats 

Often one of the most difficult aspects of writing a paper is knowing how to properly integrate your sources into your paper. Many cases of plagiarism are unintentional and happen because the writer is unaware of how to properly incorporate and cite sources in the text of a paper. The following steps can help you make certain you have all the information you need to compile proper citations.

  • Make sure you have the complete citations for all your sources.
  • You must include both the URL and dated visited for Internet resources sited.
  • Keep careful records of your research. Note where in your paper you are using a particular resource.
  • Know what citation format your instructor wants you to use before you get started.


Citation Guidelines which will help you prepare citations properly. Print versions of these, which are much more detailed, can be found in the library.

  • MLA Format
    Guide to citations in MLA style from Millikin University's Writing Center.
  • APA Format 
    Guide to citations in APA style from Millikin University's Writing Center.
  • Chicago Style Manual
    Guidelines for using the Chicago, or Turabian, style. 

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL