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Responsible use of information: Tips against plagiarism and dishonesty

Tips against plagiarism

You avoid plagiarism by summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting your sources and adding the appropriate reference. By adapting the following routines you can become accustomed to doing this correctly and avoid accidental plagiarism:

  • Take effective notes
  • Keep track of your bibliography
  • Use tools like Turnitin to your advantage

To avoid plagiarism write down the sources in your notes. Use different colors to indicate your own ideas and the ideas of the original source. If you also use bullet points instead of copying large chunks of text, paraphrasing becomes easier. Watch part of the video Plagiarism and The Point Form Note-Taking technique (1:53) by William Keisling for an example.

Keep track of your sources throughout your research: even the ones you might not use in the end. Keep a bibliography of references to sources you have read or skimmed during your research with short notes and summaries on their main points. This helps avoid the situation where you think you came up with an idea, while you actually came across it during your literature review. Reference tools like Refworks have the option to add notes and put references in folders to help you keep an annotated bibliography.

Turnitin is used within Canvas to check your work for originality. It compares the texts of many webpages, articles and other assignments to the text you submit. It is NOT a plagiarism detector. The real plagiarism checker is your instructor, since a low percentage in the Turnitin check does not guarantee there is no plagiarism. However, sometimes you can use the option to submit your draft to view the 'Similarity Report.' This report can alert you to missing references or problematic paraphrasing. A course administrator can decide to make the draft option available.

Tips against dishonesty

Two of the core principles of scientific integrity are honesty and trustworthiness. When you use  information it is your responsibility to ensure the source abides to these principles. Read the guide Evaluating information & data for more information on how to critically assess your sources.

The LibGuide on Newspapers, magazines & articles on current affairs also includes information on recognizing false news stories. 

Many students also have questions about AI language models, such as Chat GPT. How trustworthy are the answers these programs give to your prompts? Read more about this and other issues in our 'The five pitfalls for using Chat GPT for your research assignment'.