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Plagiarism & Citation Assistance for Kids

Everyone has original ideas and thoughts. When people write their ideas down, they own the ideas and the words. Copyright laws state that people own the original words they write, which are known as intellectual property. If someone creates a symbol, word, or design that identifies a product or a company, this would be a trademark, which is also protected by law. As students write assignments, they often have to gather information and facts as a part of their research. While this fact-finding is a great way to learn about a subject, you have to be careful how you use this information. Passing along other people's words or ideas as your own is a kind of stealing called plagiarism.

What Is Plagiarism?

Adding someone else's words to your own writing and not giving the person credit for the words is one type of plagiarism. In this situation, you have taken the words that someone else wrote and you are presenting them as if you wrote them, which is not true. It's also possible to plagiarize if you use someone else's ideas, even if you write about them in your own words. Both of these situations would require that you give credit to the person who wrote the original words or who had the original idea. Giving credit for words or ideas is known as citing your source.

  • What Is Plagiarism? Plagiarism is the unauthorized and unattributed use of someone else's work.
  • What Constitutes Plagiarism? Using someone else's ideas or writing without showing where the information came from is a type of theft called plagiarism.
  • What Is a Paraphrase? Paraphrasing text involves taking ideas and text that someone else wrote and writing it again using your own words.
  • What Is Plagiarism? (PDF): If you take someone else's thoughts, ideas, or words and use them as if they are yours, you have committed plagiarism.
  • Why Learn About Plagiarism? Learning about plagiarism is important to ensure that you don't make mistakes that could infringe on other people's ideas or words.

How to Avoid Plagiarizing Text

Instead of copying other people's words down, you might summarize the ideas in your own words. This is known as "paraphrasing." As you summarize text, you have to be careful that you put the ideas into your own style of writing. It's also important to make sure that the summary you write is accurate without changing any important facts. Even when you paraphrase an idea or words, you still need to give information about the person who owns the intellectual property to avoid plagiarism. In some situations, you might decide that you do need to quote someone else's words exactly. In this case, you would surround the text with quotation marks, and you would cite the person who wrote the words originally and the document in which the words appear.

  • How to Avoid Plagiarism: Rewriting other people's words is one component for avoiding plagiarism. However, using other people's ideas also requires attributing your source to avoid plagiarism.
  • Avoiding Plagiarism (PDF): Never purchase or use a paper or report written by someone else, as this is plagiarism, since you are using someone else's work as if it is your work.
  • How to Avoid Plagiarism: Give yourself plenty of time to write an assignment to ensure that you don't resort to copying and pasting text from sources to finish the work.
  • Tips to Avoid Plagiarism and Cite Sources: Keep ongoing notes and records about the information you gather as you write to ensure that you properly cite all sources.
  • Tips on Paraphrasing: Paraphrasing someone else's ideas requires that you put the text into your own style and words, and you still have to cite the original author as the source for the ideas.

Tips for Citing Sources

The way you cite sources depends on the style in which you are writing. Some styles involve placing the source information immediately after the text or idea in parentheses, known as a parenthetical citation. Another style involves creating footnotes that appear on the bottom of your pages. Still another citation style calls for creating a bibliography, which is a separate list of your sources that follows the paper you're writing. Your assignment will usually include directions for the style to use for citing your sources.

  • Research Guide: Citing sources involves following style guidelines for your assignment to make sure that you list the sources for your information correctly.
  • Citing Sources: All quoted, summarized, or paraphrased text you include in your writing needs to be fully cited to show where the text or ideas originated.
  • Citing Sources Matters: Writing an assignment involves using sources for facts and data. As you gather this information, you will use it to formulate your own ideas and conclusions. Citing your sources gives credit to other people who have written their ideas and allows people who read your writing to learn more.
  • Seven Suggestions for Citing Sources: It is usually better to paraphrase someone else's writing instead of quoting it verbatim. If you do decide to use a quote, keep it brief and cite it fully.
  • Writing Tips: The Importance of Citing Sources: Finding quality sources is also crucial to ensure that the information you find is accurate. Academic sources are often reputable.