Skip to Main Content

GLBH 150A: Global Health Senior Capstone: Avoiding Plagiarism

This Guide is designed to assist undergraduate students writing senior theses on topics involving intersections of Anthropology and Global Health

Practicing good research skills means that last minute crush to get the paper finished doesn't have to be so stressful.  Read on to learn some common mistakes and pick up a few tips for doing it right. 

What is Plagiarism

In a nutshell, plagiarism is when ideas, text, and creative works are used but not cited in academic, professional, and personal work. It may be be unintentional, or it could be intentional (hopefully, not).  Most of us don't set out to take someone else's work and pass it off as our own, but mistakes happen.  The following are some common sense rules of thumb and tips for avoiding those mistakes. 

Common forms of plagiarism can include:

Plagiarism Includes: How it Might Happen
Passing off another’s ideas or work as your own.  You used someone else's idea (that's ok) but didn't cite where you read it.
Copying, cutting and pasting without citing the original source. You didn't paraphrase it and/or use didn't use quotes properly, and no citation (oops!).
Paraphrasing incorrectly. This could happen in may ways, but often it is when you swap in one or two synonymous words to replace the author's words 
Using media files, such as image, audio or video files, without citing them. It is not just articles that need to be cited (including in posters).  All ideas, images, or graphics that are not your own should be cited.
Fabricating citations  This is when you make up a citation.  Really, don't do it. 


What about things that might be considered "common knowledge"?  Should I cite?  Can I skip citing it?  Consider:

  1. Can it be found in many different places?
  2. Is it widely known by a lot of different people?

Perhaps this decision tree will help.

Decision tree graphic by Harris, Robert

At the end of the day, use your common sense — and when in doubt, ask! (Or just cite it.)


Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

  • Track your research  (sometimes just to keep your sanity and replicate good work)
    -- Where did you search?  
    -- What terms did you use when you searched?   (You can even go an extra step and note if they were successful or not)
    -- What citations are perfect for your needs?   
    -- Use a paper or digital notebook to keep all your info in one place.
    -- If you where do you learn about tools to help organize your research, I have some online note-taking suggestions for you.
  • Keep track of the citations using online tools: UC Library Search (see how it helps), citation options in the databases, ZoteroBib,or even better, Zotero or EndNote Online so you can easily use them in a paper or presentation.
  • Use style guides to cite in the correct format. (The Excelsior OWL is a great online source for the highly used styles like Chicago.)
  • When in doubt, cite it! Cite all outside sources except for your own common knowledge.
  • Cite your sources (use paraphrases or when needed, direct quotes) as you write your rough draft. Refer back to your research journal for accuracy. If you still have questions about when to cite something, check with your instructor.

4 Steps to Successful Paraphrasing

Step #1Read the entire text, underlining key points and main ideas.

Step #2 In your own words, write a sentence about the main idea of the text (i.e. summarize). Also, write key points in the text.

 Highlight any words, phrases, or key passages that you would want to quote directly.

 Combine steps 2 & 3 above into a new paraphrased sentence or paragraph --  using your own words.