Some Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Collect citation information as you collect your sources.

When taking notes, do not mix sources. Use one source per card or page. 

Take good notes that differentiate between quotes and your own thoughts.

  • Use color coding, e.g. your own words in black and quotes in green.
  • "Indicate in your notes which ideas are taken from sources with a big S, and which are your own insights (ME)." (Stolley and Brizee).
  • Lipson suggests "Q-quotes" (34). Use a capital Q and a page number to mark exact words taken from a source, e.g. Q34 Some honest writers find themselves in hot water, accused of plagiarism, because their notes are so bad they cannot tell what they copied and what they wrote themselves. (This quotation is also from Lipson.)

Manage your time.clock.jpg

  • Give yourself a realistic timeline for completing a project. Some students try to research and compile an entire speech hours before it is due; these students tend to end up very stressed.
  • Break the project down into smaller tasks and complete them over a longer period of time. For example, you might first find two articles on the topic of your speech. The next free block of time you have, you might read one of the two articles you found and take notes on it. Later read the second article, and so on. Once you have decided to use a source in your speech, go ahead and complete the citation; it's usually easier to do one citation at a time than several at once. As you are collecting your sources, make sure that you collect the information needed to write a citation. It can very difficult to find a book, article or web site again at the last minute if you have not taken down that information in the first place. In addition to breaking the research into pieces, break the speech itself into pieces. If you outline your speech, you can work on just a portion of the outline at one time.

Ask for help.

When in doubt, cite.