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Information Research Strategies: Avoiding plagiarism

Avoiding plagiarism

In the university environment, we are continually engaged with other people's ideas: we read them in texts, hear them in lecture, discuss them in class, and incorporate them into our own writing. Using information sources in an ethical manner and avoiding plagiarism is important both from the standpoint of personal integrity but also to meet University of Arizona expectations and requirements in regards to academic integrity.  

[Adapted from: Plagiarism; What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It.   By The Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.]

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Define academic integrity, academic dishonesty and plagiarism.
  • Describe University of Arizona policies and resources related to academic integrity.
  • Recognize and employ appropriate techniques for avoiding plagiarism (keeping notes, paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting).


Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. It is defined as using another person's ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

The following are three differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement (Stearns, 1999):

  • Using even a small amount of a work written by someone else without attribution is plagiarism, but to be guilty of copyright infringement, the amount copied must be in some sense substantial.
  • One can plagiarize any work that has ever been written, no matter how old and no matter who the author, but copying even an entire book that is in the public domain-whether a product of Shakespeare or the U.S. government-is not a violation of copyright.
  • It is possible to plagiarize ideas, even facts (if, for example, they are presented in the same order and context as another work), but copyright law does not protect facts or ideas, only the original way in which they are expressed within a particular work.

Stearns, Laurie. "Copy Wrong: Plagiarism, Process, Property, and the Law." in Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. Eds. Lise Buranen and Alice Myers Roy. State University of New York Press, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). EBSCO. Web. 27 Oct. 2011.


Read Stanley Fish's op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "Plagiarism is Not a Big Moral Deal.

The UA Code of Academic Integrity

 Although some students and even professors may not think plagiarism is a big deal, the University of Arizona takes the issue of academic integrity very seriously. The Code of Academic Integrity from the Dean of Students Office states:

"Integrity and ethical behavior are expected of every student in all academic work. This Academic Integrity principle stands for honesty in all class work, and ethical conduct in all labs and clinical assignments."