Isothermal Community College logo Library Isothermal Community College Library
Isothermal Community College
P.O. Box 804, Spindale NC 28160
(828) 395-1307  fax (828) 286-8208

Charles P. Wiggins, Director of Library Services

ACA Handouts & Exercises

Avoiding Plagiarism

(See the Glossary below this section for more information on underlined words.)

According to College Policy 601-02-00BP, VIII. ACADEMIC CODE OF CONDUCT AND APPEALS, A. ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT, "'plagiarism' is defined as the appropriation of another person's work, language, thoughts, ideas or expressions, and representing it as one's own work," and an act of Academic Misconduct "may result in a written or verbal warning, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a failing grade for the course. (In accordance with guidelines for certain programs, academic misconduct may result in removal from the program.)"

To plagiarize is to use someone else's idea, creation or information without giving proper credit to the originator.  Some examples:
Deliberate Plagiarism          <~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>          Possibly Inadvertent Plagiarism
Copying/pasting from a source into a paper or project without giving credit Using someone's graphic or
drawing without credit
Using too many of the same words
of the source in a paraphrase
Turning in a paper written by someone else
or used in another class
Failing to put quotation marks
around a direct quote
Expanding on an idea from another
source without giving credit

Consequences of Plagiarism -- Whether deliberate or accidental, plagiarism is unethical and is taken very seriously in colleges and universities.  Depending on circumstances, consequences may include:

  •  Failing an assignment
  •  Failing a course
  •  Being expelled from a college or university 
  •  Being sued by a person whose work you have plagiarized

See the Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Judicial Procedures, Section VIII. A: Academic Misconduct and Section VI: Code of Conduct Sanctions, as published in the Student Handbook (Appendix A.), for information on Isothermal Community College's policies.

Avoid plagiarism when preparing a paper, report, or project by citing (giving proper credit to) the original source of an idea or information.  When conducting research, make sure that you carefully record or capture all needed information for every source you use, and that all quotations are accurate.  Make a note of the date when you use electronic sources (databases and Internet) for use in your citations.   

Documenting sources requires that you know what information you need to use from the original source, and specifically how to put it together into a citation.  There are different styles (standard forms for documenting sources) used for writing in various disciplines.  (See Glossary below for more information.)

      Basic guidelines for documenting sources correctly in your paper: *
  • All paraphrases must be in your own words and include citations
  • Direct quotes less than 4 lines (MLA) or less than 40 words (APA) must be enclosed in quotation marks
  • Direct quotes which are 4 lines or more must be indented ten spaces (one inch) in MLA style or five to seven spaces (1/2 inch) in APA style, with quotation marks omitted
  • Introduce borrowed information by giving the author's name, and follow it by giving an in-text citation that includes the page number where the original passage is found
  • Include a list of works cited at the back of your paper    

* Not to worry:
You will be provided with more specific information and appropriate guidance in courses requiring documented research papers. Our intent in providing this information here is to alert students to do their best to avoid committing plagiarism from the start of their college studies.

Source consulted for writing handout:  Avoiding Plagiarism. OWL at Purdue University and Purdue University. 1995-2004. 4 Aug. 2004 <>.



Citation/Cite - A citation is a reference to a supporting source used for a paper or project.  A citation includes sufficient information to specifically identify and locate that source.  To cite is to refer to a source in order to give credit to the originator of the information or idea.

Document(-ing)/Documentation - To document is to support with references or citations using a standard style, such as MLA or APA.

Paraphrase - To paraphrase is to reword a text or passage from an original source; putting the information into one's own words.  You must cite your source when you paraphrase.

Plagiarize/Plagiarism - To plagiarize is to use and pass off the ideas or writings of another as one's own. Copy and paste is easy but never ethical unless properly cited.  Plagiarism is the act of plagiarizing.

Quotation/Quote - A quotation is a direct reference to the text of another work, using the exact wording of that source.  To quote someone is to repeat that person's exact words, either written or spoken.

Source - A point of origin of information or ideas.  Sources may include, but are not limited to, books or articles (in print or electronic format); charts or drawings; films or videos; websites; people. 

Style - "A customary manner of presenting printed material, including usage, punctuation, spelling, typography, and arrangement." 1  Styles for writing papers include: Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago/Turabian, American Political Science Association (APSA), and Council of Biology Editors (CBE).  Examples of styles employed at Isothermal Community College include MLA, used in English courses, and APA, used in the Nursing program.  Formats for creating citations using the styles most often used at Isothermal, and examples of each, can be found on the Library website at

1 American Heritage eReference Dictionary. 2004. 4 Aug., 2004

More information
Other excellent information on plagiarism may be found at: is a free resource sponsored by iParadigms LLC, makers of Turnitin, WriteCheck, and iThenticate.
   Also watch their video on the 10 Types of Plagiarism, based on the White Paper "The Plagiarism Spectrum: Instructor Insights into the 10 Types of Plagiarism"
Purdue OWL: Avoiding Plagiarism
Avoiding Plagiarism § Harvard Guide to Using Sources
Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Some links on this site go to external web sites not connected with Isothermal Community College. Their inclusion is not an endorsement by Isothermal and Isothermal is not responsible for accuracy of their content.