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3 Ways You Might Be Plagiarizing — And 3 Ways to Avoid It

Academic honesty isn’t just a moral standard — it makes you a stronger student

It’s 11:45 p.m., and you have an essay due at midnight. After working on this assignment all evening, you are 100 words shy of the word count. Copying a paragraph from the internet into your essay suddenly seems like the best way to finish your assignment on time.

Think again! If you don’t give credit to the paragraph’s author, that’s plagiarism. In this article, we’ll walk through what plagiarism is and how it can be avoided.

Busy students might feel pressure to plagiarize.

What is plagiarism?

The CES Honor Code defines plagiarism as “using other peoples’ words, ideas, or data without citing, quoting, or referencing the original author.” 1
CES Honor Code,” 2021,
It is a form of academic dishonesty. On the bright side, learning how to correctly use resources makes you a more credible writer, researcher, and creator.

Ways you might be plagiarizing

Here are some common ways people plagiarize — whether accidentally or on purpose.

1. Not giving proper credit where it’s due
If you borrow an idea (that is not common knowledge) or words from an outside source (like a book or a website), remember to give the original author credit. Your teacher will tell you what style of citation or reference you should use for your class (i.e. MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

2. Submitting one assignment to more than one instructor (without permission)
You can actually plagiarize yourself. If you submit the same essay to multiple instructors, that’s academic dishonesty, because one of the essays was copied without acknowledging the original source (your other essay).

When you complete your own work, you’re not just being honest — you’re learning!

3. Submitting another person’s work under your name   

Some people purchase essays online or ask a friend to complete their assignments. If you are struggling with an assignment, don’t ask someone else to do the work — ask your instructor for help or see a tutor.

Ways to avoid plagiarism

You can avoid plagiarism by honestly using outside sources in your work. Here are three ways to do that.

1. Direct quoting
When you copy something from an outside source word-for-word, that’s called a direct quote. Quotation marks tell readers which words belong to someone else. Here’s an example:

In her April 2022 General Conference message, Sister Susan H. Porter said, “When we invite the power of God into our lives, we can replace the ‘spirit of heaviness’ with inspired perspectives that lift others.”

2. Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing is taking someone else’s words and restating them in a new way. Since it is not the original quote, you do not need quotation marks, but you should include a citation. Here’s an example using that same quote:

Sister Porter said that God’s power raises us above our struggles so we can lift those around us. 2
Susan H. Porter, “Lessons at the Well,” Liahona, May 2022

3. Summarizing
You can also summarize the general idea of someone else’s work. Summarizing is broader than paraphrasing. We could summarize Sister Porter’s message like this:

In Sister Porter’s general conference message, “Lessons at the Well,” she teaches how Christ enables us to heal ourselves and help others through small acts. 3
You are capable of creating fresh, original ideas!

Use these tips to be the best student you can be! When you create your own original work and properly credit sources you use, you become a more capable creator. Like the people of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, we should always strive to be “perfectly honest and upright in all things.” 4