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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Arrupe College

A Guide to library resources for the Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty that can have serious consequences. However, plagiarism is something that you can avoid if you understand what it is, why it matters, and how you can use a variety of strategies to prevent plagiarism from happening. 

Plagiarism defined

  • Plagiarism involves representing any material that you obtained from another source as your own work. 
  • Plagiarism can also occur when you fail to acknowledge the source of any material, including text, ideas, structure, visuals, and other expressions and media.
  • Plagiarism can occur intentionally and unintentionally. 

Why does plagiarism matter? 

  • Individual integrity - Committing plagiarism can negatively impact your future academic and professional career. 
  • Institutional integrity - Plagiarism scandals can damage the reputation of your school and lessen the value of your degree. 

Why use sources?

  • Sources help you build your arguments. 
  • Sources help you verify your claims. 
  • Sources show that you are aware of the work of others in the field.

Research is a conversation among people in a given academic field. Sources are a way for you to participate in a research conversation since you are acknowledging and responding to the work of others in the field. 

  • Take good notes - You won't be able to paraphrase effectively if you don't fully understand the material
  • Keep track of your citation information - This will help you prevent unintentional plagiarism
  • Use key words in your notes - Key words can help you recall how you want to use the text in your paper and what the key points are in the text. Since you'll often read material well before you start writing your paper, you'll want to leave a yourself a trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak, to help you recall main points and key ideas that you had. 
  • Check your paraphrase against the original - Make sure your paraphrase doesn't copy the original text's structure or rely too heavily on synonyms.  You can use this online resource to check on how successful your paraphrase is: Paraphrase Self-Test

In fact, many instances of plagiarism occur unintentionally. Intentional or not, any form of plagiarism is a serious offense. The following are some habits and practices that can lead to inadvertent plagiarism. 

  • Procrastination 
  • Failing to keep track of citation information  
  • Taking notes by copying directly from a text 

 If you are writing and researching at the last minute, you are more likely to make errors that can lead to plagiarism.  You are also more likely to have a citation error or fail to cite a source if you don't take good notes and keep your source information organized and available.

Self-plagiarism defined

  • Self-plagiarism occurs when an author does not let their readers know that they are using a previously published work. 
  • Self-plagiarism can occur when you submit multiple copies of the same paper, or portions of the same paper. 

Why does self-plagiarism matter?

Say you submit a paper for a class and receive a good grade. Next semester you submit that same paper again for a different class and receive another grade. You just received two grades, but you only did the work once. Self-plagiarism is essentially a form of dishonesty.