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Using Information Sources Ethically and Legally

The guide is designed to help students maintain their academic integrity by using information sources ethically and legally.

Why do students plagiarize?

  • They may have a different cultural background.
  • They may not know/understand why proper attribution of sources is important.
  • They may not know how to document sources appropriately.
  • They are stressed and pressed for time.
  • They don't keep track of their sources while doing research.
  • They are not happy with their writing abilities.

Plagiarism Avoidance Tips (video)

Tips for avoiding plagiarism

  • Put in quotation marks all the text you use directly.
  • When paraphrasing and summarizing, use your own words and style to express ideas.
  • Provide citations for all quotations, summaries and paraphrases both in text and in references.
  • Provide citations for any material from other sources, including images, audio, information obtained by e-mail, chat, etc.
  • Keep track of your citations. If you are photocopying, printing or downloading an article or an excerpt from a book, keep the citation information together with the text. Citation formatters will help you!.
  • Check with a writing tutor whether you have paraphrased or summarized the source correctly.
  • Ask a librarian to help you with citing your sources properly in the required format.
  • Err on the side of caution: when in doubt, cite!


Quotations are a group of words taken directly from a source, word for word without any changes. If you are using a direct quotation in your work, it must appear with quotation marks and needs to be cited with in-text citations and on the reference page.

Direct quotations should be used sparingly. Use them only if a direct quote adds weight to your arguments or if restating it would dilute the meaning. Some styles of writing do not allow use of direct quotations.  Instead, you may need to paraphrase or summarize the ideas you wish to incorporate into your paper.


Paraphrasing is taking someone else’s ideas and understanding them so completely that you can restate them in your own words and use them to support your own ideas.  Make sure that you change not only the vocabulary, but also the sentence structure. You might express an opinion on your source as part of your paraphrase. 

You should always provide attribution for paraphrased sources both in text and in references.


Summarizing involves putting the main ideas into your own words, including only the main points. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

It is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source both in text and in references.


Turnitin is a plagiarism detection tool that is embedded within Canvas. By applying Turnitin to a Canvas assignment, instructors can check the originality of student work against the expansive Turnitin database. Turnitin can be used for both group and individual assignments and helps prevent and detect plagiarism. It can also help students learn appropriate citation practices.

If your assignment is not set up for submission to Turnitin and/or you want to submit your dissertation or publication draft, you can use the open enrollment course Turnitin Dissertation Review (it is not just fro dissertations). As directed on the Canvas module screen, click "Join this Course" and confirm your enrollment to get started. Once you are enrolled, please go to Assignments to access Turnitin for your dissertation review.

Get Help from Libraries and Writing Centers


Writing Centers

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AWC Tutor Feedback (submit a paper of six double-spaced pages or less and get  feedback from a tutor within 48 hours)


Schedule an appointment

Submit your work (submit a paper of six double-spaced pages or less and get  feedback from a tutor within 24-48 hours)


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Phone: 513-556-1424

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