Johns Hopkins University Secondary Support Initiative (JHUSSI)  

Avoiding Plagiarism: Citing Sources

In academic papers, students are often asked to consult a variety of sources, present what they have learned from those sources, and interpret that knowledge in light of their own experience. Thus, most academic writing contains both material that you draw from outside resources and also ideas that are your own. In this section, you will learn why plagiarism is important, be introduced to methods for incorporating others' words and ideas within your written work, and review the School of Education's Academic Integrity and Ethical Conduct Policy.

In this section you will learn:

  • How to avoid plagiarism
  • Several methods for incorporating others' words and ideas into your written work
  • The School of Education's Academic Integrity and Ethical Conduct Policy

Video Library


Why is Plagiarism Important?

As Westhphal states, “when writers intentionally, or unintentionally present another person's words, ideas, or work as their own, they are committing plagiarism” (Westhphal, 2000). Plagiarii were pirates who sometimes stole children. When you commit plagiarism, you are stealing someone else’s creation and are violating the Academic Integrity and Ethical Conduct Policy.


To avoid plagiarizing, you must reference the original work and author in your writing whenever you:

  • Copy another person's exact words;
  • Paraphrase or summarize someone else's ideas; or
  • Present facts, statistics, charts, or diagrams developed by another individual.

Through this section, you'll discover why and when we cite sources. While we hope that this section will help you to identify and avoid plagiarism, it does not address all of the issues encountered in writing for an academic audience. You are encouraged to read the plagiarism section of the APA manual (pp. 15-16, 170) for further details. If you have specific questions about plagiarism or academic integrity, please consult with individual faculty.

Introduction to Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

In the "Why is Plagarism Important?" video above you learned about the three methods (quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing) of incorporating the ideas of others into your work. Paraphrasing and summarizing without plagiarizing requires effort and practice.  Therefore, take a few moments to make certain you understand what it means to paraphrase and summarize without plagiarism. Please click on the links provided to the right to review successful examples of paraphrasing from the University of Wisconsin Writing Center and to complete practice exercises from Cornel University Plagiearism Exercises.


By following these conventions, not only can you avoid plagiarism but you can enhance the authority of your writing by:

  • Having your citation of sources lend the authority, reputation, and standing of the scholars you have cited extended to your work;
  • Enabling readers to understand and track your research
  • Associating you with the academic tradition of giving credit for the ideas we use so that others using your ideas will give you credit for your work.

Plagiarism is more easily avoided if you: (1) take accurate and complete notes, reflecting the source of the ideas you encounter; and (2) learn how to use citation styles.

Harvey, G. (2008). Writing with sources: A guide for students (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett
Spatt, B. (2003). Writing from sources (6th ed.).  Boston, MA: Bedford/ St. Martin’s.
Westphal, D. (2000). Plagiarism. Retrieved from

The School of Education's Academic Integrity and Ethical Conduct Policy

Academic integrity and ethical conduct is critical. Please reveiw The School of Education's Academic Integrity and Ethical Conduct Policy on the SOE website.

After you have completed this section, please go to the Why and When to Cite Sources section.