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Ethical Use of Sources and Writing

Chester Fritz Library tips on using sources


Definition of plagiarism

“Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.” Source: Plagiarism refers to the act of representing another person’s work without giving them proper credit. Anytime you get ideas or content from someone other than yourself, you need to cite it.


The best way to avoid plagiarism is to understand how to properly quote, paraphrase, and format citations.

  1. Quoting - when you take someone's direct words, you need to use quotation marks to indicate that it's someone else's words. You also need to provide the correct in-text citation. Best practice is to use quotes only when necessary.
  2. Paraphrasing - this is when writers translate the original text into their own words. It is more than just using different synonyms or rearranging the words in a different order. Incorporating your own voice into your work is important because it expands upon the original work and you are able to jump into the "conversation" with evidence and facts to support your claim.
  3. Citing - this gives credit to the original author, and credit needs to be given because you’re acknowledging their ideas and contributions. This also allows readers to trace back to the work you researched. They can use your citations to find more information, and they can also see what type of source you’ve used. And finally, it shows that you’ve done work in researching a particular topic, and readers can see what you’ve cited, which is important in academic writing.

Additionally, there are many different types of plagiarism that you may need to be aware of. Most often it is a problem of improper citation formatting or poor paraphrasing. Some common types of plagiarism include: Copy and Paste, Misunderstanding Common Knowledge, Purchasing/Using other's work, Reusing own work. More information about the different types of plagiarism here.


Citation Help -

Citation managers can help you keep track of your research and with formatting citations. These robust tools allow researchers to save, organize, and share your references all in one location. They also allow the ability to auto-format in-text citations and references lists into your papers.

Citation Style Guides are important because they allow for consistency across disciplines and help the reader navigate your paper.


For a quick plagiarism check, SafeAssign is a Blackboard feature that can be accessed through the Student Resources course everyone is assigned. Using it this way means that it’s not going to be seen by a professor. We made a quick video demonstration that you can access below.

Additionally, UND provides access to a resource called Smarthinking, which is an online tutoring service. Students can get help with writing and grammar.

Copyright vs Plagiarism

Copyright vs Plagiarism -

Maybe you have heard of copyright before? Maybe you haven't? That's ok. But how does this relate to plagiarism? Copyright and plagiarism are different in that copyright law protects intellectual and creative works that are in a fixed, tangible format. Plagiarism is an ethical concern, and it does not protect legally. Ideas can be plagiarized but not protected by copyright because they are not in a tangible format. Having an idea of what both of these concepts are is important because it will allow you to be more informed when making decisions about using sources. Find out more on our Copyright Basics guide.

Additional Resources

Below are some articles that provide an in-depth overview of avoiding plagiarism and academic integrity.