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Scottsdale Community College Scottsdale Community College Library

SCC Library 101


What is Plagiarism?

When we talk about ethics and plagiarism, we’re really discussing academic integrity. C.S. Lewis has the best definition of integrity, “Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Cheating is easy, integrity takes effort and self-discipline. Your college instructors never assume that it is your intent to plagiarize. Most plagiarism is inadvertent, when we don’t understand how to properly cite, paraphrase or rephrase, or quote our sources. This can easily be fixed with some time and practice. 

Plagiarism is the act of borrowing someone's words, creative work, or ideas and passing them off as your own. Regardless of the format (book, photograph, article, webpage, song, email message) failing to properly cite your source material is plagiarism. We already know that in the context of a written essay, we cite our sources in two ways:  1) An in-text citation or parenthetical citation which immediately identifies the source of a quote or paraphrase, and 2) A bibliography, works cited or reference list which indicates all the sources you have used throughout your paper.

Need more information about Plagiarism? Check out the Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial. 

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using someone else's thoughts or ideas as your own. Instead, quote or paraphrase the part you'd like to use and include a citation.

Quoting Correctly Means:

  1. The piece you use must be contained within quotation marks.
  2. You must include an in-text citation or footnote.
  3. You must also include a citation in either your Works Cited, Reference list or in a footnote.

Paraphrasing Correctly Means:

  1. Use your own words and style to convey another person’s idea.
  2. Use an in-text citation.
  3. You must include a citation in either your Works Cited, Reference list, or in a footnote.


  1. Giving yourself enough time.  This will alleviate stress so you can be thorough and accurate
  2. Take good notes so you don't forget where your sources came from.
  3. Getting help from your instructor, the Writing Center, the Library or another trusted source.