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Can You Recognize Plagiarism?

An assessment to determine how well you understand the ways in which plagiarism can occur.

Including Outside Sources in your Writing

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Published August 2014

NCSU Credits

Any time that you're using someone else's words, research, or images, you want to make sure that you put quotation marks around the information that is not your own writing. 

However, direct quotations should be used sparingly. It is best to use them:

•when the wording of the quotation is highly technical
•when it is important to show exact wording (e.g., in an interview or debate)
•when you are analyzing or interpreting a passage

Use the image below to help frame your quotation using the ICE method - Introduce, using signal quotes; Cite the quote with an in-text citation; and Explain, using your own words to connect the quote or information to the rest of your paper.

When introducing your quote, use a signal phrase:

•Use these as you introduce your quote, summary, or paraphrasing of a source
•You want to introduce how your quote, summary, or paraphrase relates to your topic, which can mean introducing:
- Who the author is
- What organization is behind the research
- Where the source came from

You'll also want to be sure to cite the original source. This should be done within the text of your paper with either a footnote, an endnote superscript, or with a parenthetical in-text citation.  In addition, for each source you use, be sure to supply a separate citation with complete bibliographic information on a Works Cited or References page at the end of your document.  

Whether you use footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notation depends on what documentation style your professor requires you to use (for example, MLA, Chicago, APA, or Turabian).  In addition, the formatting of bibliographic information (author’s name, title, publisher, date of publication, etc.) should also be formatted according to the course’s required documentation style.                                  

Following MLA guidelines for in-text citations, place the author’s name and the page number from the original source inside the parentheses.

Example 1: Most professors agree that “Every student must properly document sources following the specific guidelines of a particular association” (Smith 213).

If you use the author's name in your text, you simply need to place the page number in the parentheses.

Example 2: According to James Smith, “Every student must properly document sources following the specific guidelines of a particular association” (213).

When quoting a source, use the ICE method: 


Summarizing is about:

  • main ideas
  • main points
  • major support

It's more about the big picture, rather than small details like a quotation or paraphrase. 

Tips for summarizing: 

  • As you’re reading the article or text you want to summarize, underline or highlight the main points (if it’s your copy), or make notes. 
  • If you’re summarizing multiple articles/works for your paper, summarize each one in your notes as you finish reading it.
  • When you’re ready to summarize, do that from your notes instead of the actual article – then the words are more your own than the original author’s.

A word of caution: while summarizing is about the big picture, you want to be sure to include enough details to make sure it isn't confused for something else. 

Paraphrasing is about putting a quote into your own words.

  • Pro: This is the type of integration most professors and journals want to see as it shows synthesis of the material you’re researching.
  • Con: This is the easiest method to plagiarize.


  • As you’re reading the article or text underline or highlight the quotations you would like to paraphrase (if it’s your copy), or make notes. 
  • In your notes, take the parts you want to paraphrase from the article and put them into your own words. 
  • Make sure to jot down the citation for each of these!  When you're researching and writing down notes from multiple sources, it can be easy to mix things up or forget where an idea came from if you're not writing down citations.
  • When you’re writing your paper, paraphrase from your notes so that the wording is more your own than the author’s and is a true paraphrasing.
  • Make sure you're still following the ICE method: introduce the source of the idea you're using, cite the paraphrase like you would a quote or summary, and explain how it fits in to the arguments you're making in your paper. 


Original text:

“We have already seen that one of the results stemming from the shift from the oral to the literary in the institutionalization of the fairy tale was a loss of live contact with the storyteller and a sense of community or commonality.”
Source: Jack Zipes, Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale, 1983, p. 78


Jack Zipes, professor emeritus from the University of Minnesota and a well-known fairy tale expert, insists the connection that is created by verbally sharing fairy tales has been lost over time as fairy tales began being shared as print materials instead of being shared by word-of-mouth (78).

Additional Examples to Avoid Plagiarizing your Paraphrase

Check out additional examples to avoid plagiarizing your paraphrase here:

Generally, if information is common knowledge (e.g. Bill Clinton was president of the United States or the moon revolves around the earth), you do not need to cite the source of that information. But if you are not certain as to whether or not something is common knowledge, or if you think your readers may not be familiar with certain facts, it is best to provide a citation for the information.  It is always best to err on the side of caution - the more time you spend researching a topic, the more something might seem like it's common knowledge when it might not be. 

Learn More about Plagiarism

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