Research Series: Plagiarism

image of thief stealing form a safe with a red x superimposed on top; caption underneath reads: "Don't steal someone's work!"Everyone knows that directly copying another author’s work is plagiarism, but there are also less obvious forms . Plagiarism takes many forms and the consequences can be severe, so it pays to be well informed.


What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is copying an author’s work and passing it off as your own.

This definition may seem simple, but plagiarism can be much more complicated.  Did you know that you could be held responsible for plagiarism if you paraphrase (i.e., to put in your own words) an author’s work without providing a citation?  Even if you cite your source, if paraphrasing is not done correctly, you could still be plagiarizing.

Why bother citing?

The purpose of college-level research is to locate and analyze literature created by experts in your field, then process all of the information that you found to create your own new ideas or conclusions. Citations are important, because they give credit to the authors who helped you develop your ideas.  Citations also give your paper authority, because they show that you have read literature on the topic and that your conclusions build upon work of other authors. When you provide proper citations, your professors will see that you understand the purpose of college-level research.

When in doubt, cite!

When in doubt, cite it!  There are some cases where you may not need to cite (e.g., common knowledge [explained later]), but plagiarism is a “better safe than sorry” situation.  If you are not sure whether a source needs to be cited, go ahead and cite it!

If you aren’t sure how to cite, ask a librarian! Your NOVA Online librarians are citation/plagiarism experts and we are happy to help you. Please contact us at NOVA for more help.

Student Lingo Workshop: The Writing Process

Are you feeling overwhelmed about an upcoming research paper? 

nullStudent Lingo is a free online resource that offers workshops on a variety of success topics. There are a few new workshops this semester that focus on the writing process from pre-writing and planning, drafting a thesis sentence and the revision process. Even if you are familiar with the various stages of writing a research paper, this tool offers a refresher and a reminder of ways that you can prepare for the essay using techniques like brainstorming and creating a story board to link sequences of events.   

These recorded workshops are presented by a knowledgeable presenter in a Power Point format.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the next essay that you have to write check out the workshops that are associated with the writing process. The presenter discusses the various stages of writing and strategies that you can employ in the beginning to ensure that your essay is thorough in achieving its intended purpose. The presentations also discuss linking ideas in an organized fashion as well as important elements related to the revision process.  

If you need assistance locating helpful study resources, contact your Student Success Coach at or call 703.764.5076.