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Digital Citizenship

This course material covers plagiarism concerns and is accompanied by a paper quiz on the content.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

No one wants to have an awkward conversation about plagiarism and here are some ways to help prevent it:

  • Provide a proper citation for anything that is not common knowledge. When in doubt, use a citation.
  • Do not resubmit work you have done previously.
  • Do not have another person do the work for you.
  • Do not copy and paste another person's work and pass it off as your own. Anytime you are directly quoting a person, you must provide a direct quotation or paraphrase, with a proper citation. 

Photo Reference: Butler University | Citation Guides - LibGuides | What do I need to cite?

What is considered 'General' or 'Common Knowledge'?

What is "common knowledge"?

Common knowledge is used to describe well-known facts that will be known or familiar to a lot of people. You do not need to cite common knowledge facts. Let's look at an example:


The following claim could be considered common knowledge, and does not require a citation

Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.


However, the following statement would require a citation and not a widely known fact.

The Plum Pudding Model of the atom proposed by J. J. Thomson influenced Planck's Constant.




Photo References: SVG by Indolences. (2007, Feb 14). Stylised atom. Blue dots are electrons, red dots are protons and black dots are neutrons. Wikimedia Commons.

Tjlafave. (2016, April 4). English: Atoms were initially thought to contain many hundreds or thousands of electrons as shown in this schematic representation of the plum pudding model. Wikimedia Commons.

Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas (2020, Sept 18). Citation Styles. UA Cossatot LibGuides. 

Mastering Paraphrasing


Paraphrasing is an important tool to master in order write efficiently, while avoiding plagiarism. Paraphrasing is when you write another person's thoughts/ideas in your own words and provide a proper citation.


Photo Reference: New Literacies Alliance. (2020, Dec. 3). Citations: using the ideas of others in your own work. Shared under CC BY-NC-SA.


When is it okay to use quotes?

Using direct quotes in your writing can contribute to the flow of your writing, or be necessary for capturing the voice of external sources. Here are some simple dos and don'ts to keep in mind:


  • Do use the quote exactly how it is written
  • Do provide a proper in-text citation following the quote
  • Do use the quote in an appropriate way to maximize your argument


  • Do not reword the quote in any way
  • Do not use a direct quote that has multiple sentences, unless absolutely necessary. It looks like you are trying to fill up space, opposed to informing the reader
  • Do not quote a person's work without relevant context
  • Do not forget to forget to cite the author immediately following the quote


Throughout the other sections, you may have noticed a common word popping up when discussing how to avoid plagiarism...


By crediting someone else's work through a citation, you avoid the risk of plagiarizing. Citation styles vary depending on the subject so make sure to check your class syllabus beforehand, so you know your professor's preferred style. 

Information in the following paragraphs on "How to Cite" was obtained from the University of Arizona Libraries - Research Citation Guides. Direct link here:

How to Cite: 

General Citation Guides

Subject-Specific Citation Guides

Managing Citations

There are several software programs available that help you organize your sources while doing your work. 


Note: There are many websites out there that create citations for free. However, keep in mind that although they can be helpful, you will need to double-check the citation they give you. It often times is wrong because they do not have all the necessary information.

Checklist for Avoiding Plagiarism

Checklist for Avoiding Plagiarism:

Are you using:

 Your own independent material
 Common knowledge
 Someone else's own independent material

You must acknowledge someone else's material.


 Do all quotations exactly match their sources? Check!
 Have you inserted quotation marks around quotations that are run into your text?
 Have you shown omissions with ellipsis marks and additions with brackets?
 Does every quotation have a source citation?

Paraphrases and Summaries:

 Have you used your own words and sentence structures for every paraphrase and summary? If not, use quotation 
 marks around the original author’s words.

 Does every paraphrase and summary have a source citation?

The Web:

 Have you obtained any necessary permission to use someone else’s material on your Web site?

Source Citations:

 Have you acknowledged every use of someone else’s material in the
 place where you use it?
 Does your list of works cited include all the sources you have used?

Checklist Reference: Fowler, Ramsey H. and Jane I. Aaron. The Little, Brown Handbook. 12th Edition. New York:
Pearson Education, Inc., 2004.

Programs to Check Originality