Welcome to the National University Library's guide for understanding and avoiding plagiarism! The NU Student Code of Conduct defines plagiarism as the "failure to properly acknowledge authorities quoted, cited or consulted in the preparation of written work". The Library and NU Writing Center are here to help you avoid plagiarism by using and citing your research resources correctly and ethically.
You might also find our guide for citations helpful.
The NU Writing Center describes plagiarism as:
...the presentation of someone else’s ideas or words as if they were your own. Viewed as a form of academic dishonesty, it carries potentially severe penalties ranging from failing the assignment and failing the course to expulsion from the University. You are responsible for the writing you submit; you are also accountable for representing the work of others fairly and accurately. Taking the words or ideas of someone and presenting them as your own constitutes theft, whether you meant to plagiarize or not.
In his Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism, Colin Neville describes the "three main forms" of plagiarism:
- Copying another person's work, including the work of another student (with or without their consent), and claiming or pretending it to be your own
- Presenting arguments that use a blend of your own and a significant percentage of copied words of the original author without acknowledging the source
- Paraphrasing another person's work, but not giving due acknowledgement to the original writer or organization pubishing the writing, including Internet sites.
Citing your work is about more than just fulfilling the requirements for your assignment or avoiding the institutional penalties for plagiarism: under U.S. copyright law, the creator of an original work has the right to be credited for that work. Plus, when we add citations, we're giving due credit to other researchers, demonstrating that our ideas are based on evidence, and telling our readers where they can find our sources.
Yes, it's possible to plagiarize yourself! According to the NU Student Code of Conduct, the following is forbidden:
Submitting substantial portions of the same academic work for credit more than once without specific permission of the present instructor, work that has been previously offered by the same student for credit in the same, or another course.
Why? Think of it from your instructor's point of view: each assignment is meant to deepen your understanding of a topic. If you submit the same paper twice, you're missing a learning opportunity.
To avoid plagiarism, keep the following in mind:
See the NU Writing Center's Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism page for more guidance.
National University uses TurnItIn to help students check their writing for plagiarism. These programs will be available in Blackboard or Brightspace courses if enabled by faculty.
If you have any questions about these tools, or would like to use them to check your own paper, please contact your instructor.
You can activate TurnItIn in your Blackboard or Brightspace course module. For more information, contact Online Learning and Instructional Support (OLIS) by phone ((877) 533-4733 (Option 3)) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or see their help page for TurnItIn in Brightspace here.
Check out the National University Library's Citation Guide for more information about citation styles and tools!
The Library will help you find resources for your research assignments, and can also answer basic questions about citation and formatting in specific styles. Click here to contact us by email, chat box, or text seven days a week (with the exception of University holidays). Please also check out our Citation Guide.
The Online Writing Center can help you plan and revise your work. Their tutors are available seven days a week (with the exception of University holidays) and offers 40-minute synchronous online sessions using Zoom web conferencing software, email, telephone, or a combination of these tools. You can make an appointment at their website.
The Office of Student Conduct's website provides more information about plagiarism and academic integrity, a downloadable copy of the Student Code of Conduct, and related forms. Click here to find the Office's contact details.