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Avoiding Plagiarism

Virtual Library website for the Michener LRC


Turnitin is a software platform that helps to support students in their writing by ensuring submitted works meet Michener’s standards for academic integrity. Normally, students will be required to submit their written assessments to Turnitin for a review of originality. In doing so, students will allow their work to be included as source documents in the tool’s reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of verifying originality. Students may opt out of this process by contacting their course instructor at the beginning of the course, in which case the course instructor will arrange alternative methods to verify originality.

Learn more about Turnitin, including how to submit your assessments and interpret your similarity report, on the Turnitin website.


From Michener’s Academic Integrity Policy and Procedure:

Plagiarism is the portrayal, claiming or use of another person’s work or ideas (sentence, thought, paragraph, intellectual property, data, drawings or images) without specific reference. In the academic world this is considered to be theft. It is dishonest and irresponsible and will result in serious consequences.


Plagiarism is taking, using, and submitting the thoughts, writings, etc., of another person as your own. If a concept or theory is “common knowledge” in the field, e.g., one of the symptoms of measles is a rash, you do not need to provide a reference; if it is not common knowledge or if you are not sure, provide a reference. Examples of concepts that require a reference include discoveries, theories, controversies and opinions. Don’t forget to acknowledge the source of illustrations, charts, and tables of data. For more information, consult the University of Toronto’s How Not to Plagiarize.

There are several reasons for including a reference:

  • it is ethical to credit others for their contributions to your writing;
  • it may be a legal obligation in the case of copyright;
  • to protect you in the case of questionable allegations;
  • to reflect your prior reading effort;
  • to show the sequence of events involved in the resolution of a scientific problem, as part of your argument.

Paraphrases: It is often necessary to reduce a concept or theory into a few sentences. While the words may be your own, the concepts or theories are not; and you must give credit to your sources. The use of paraphrasing, rather than direct quotes, is often preferred because it helps with creating flow in building logical arguments.

Quotations: Direct quotations are to be used very sparingly. The chief drawback is that the text becomes choppy and difficult to read. Using the author’s own words in a direct quote is usually justified for only the following reasons:

  • credibility, an argument gains credibility by quoting a known authority;
  • power, an argument gains power by the skillful weaving-in of knowledge into the text;
  • eloquence, an argument gains eloquence by using a direct quote that illuminates the concept.