What is plagiarism?
The word “plagiarism” evokes a shudder in most, and rightly so: it has been and continues to be a problem in all fields, including publishing, the media, politics, and academia. The NPS Academic Honor Code defines “plagiarism” as
the use of words, information, insights, or ideas of another without crediting that person through proper citation. Unintentional plagiarism, or sloppy scholarship, is academically unacceptable; intentional plagiarism is dishonorable. You can avoid plagiarism by fully and openly crediting all sources used.
Why do we cite?
Writers and inventors have the right to be recognized and rewarded for their work. If others can claim credit for your prose and ideas, you are likely to be less inclined to create and share. Academia, in particular, depends on sharing ideas through writing.
Our goal is to help you be confident and not be a headline
The following resources give you the basic knowledge you need to avoid plagiarism and produce professional work:
- Watch the Thesis Processing Office’s short video "Plagiarism's Haunting Legacy" (5:27) to get an idea of how pervasive and harmful plagiarism is.
- At the same time, recognize that attribution encompasses much more than simply “not getting in trouble”—that it enriches the content and credibility of your work—and that, for this reason and others, plagiarism detection software, while useful, is by no means a substitute for internalizing and applying scholarly best practices for using sources. Our philosophy on the relationship between coaching, learning, and iThenticate, as well as an explanation of the pitfalls of iThenticate reports and cautions about interpreting them, can be found in our "Attribution and Plagiarism Prevention" handout.
- Give yourself a solid foundation for how to add source material into your own work by reviewing the "How to Look and Be Smart" portion of our Foundations of Academic Writing presentation, our "Core Principles of Correct Citation" video, our "Citing Responsibly, Avoiding Plagiarism" handout, and the "Paraphrasing and Quoting Like a Pro” workshop slides and video.
- Learn citation-management software such as Zotero to help you keep track of sources and more easily add citations to your work. Visit DKL’s Zotero page or attend the library’s workshop.
- Start a sentence with a signal phrase if that sentence contains source material. Signal phrases make it clear what information came from a source, while their absence indicates that words and ideas are your own. Give credit to get credit!
Citation and Anti-plagiarism Tools
- Visit the NPS Citation Guide for rules and examples of how to cite documents such as journal articles, GAO reports, military field manuals, and official memorandums.
- Get comfortable with citing responsibly in your citation style (see a list of NPS departments' required or preferred citation style(s) here):
- Determine if your material is copyrighted and how to apply fair use by Borrowing Images, Tables, and Figures Fairly.
- Learn how to paraphrase and quote bulleted and numbered lists and how to cite equations in IEEE.
- Recycle or reuse your own previously published work using the self-plagiarism handout.
- Make your work more sophisticated with Source Blending, which combines paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing.
- Prepare to ace the iThenticate plagiarism review of your Initial Review with the Thesis Processing Office by following the advice contained in the handout and reviewing the GWC’s iThenticate FAQs.
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