Plagiarism and Citations — Is It Plagiarism if You Cite

Is it plagiarism if you cite? That’s a common question among students.

What Exactly is Plagiarism?

person holding a magnifying glass over a Hebrew manuscript.
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Plagiarism is presenting the words, ideas, or results of another study as your own; it denies the author or creators of the content credit. Plagiarism breaches ethical standards in scholarship, whether deliberate or unintentional.

Plagiarizing authors disrespect the efforts of original authors by failing to acknowledge their contributions. They also complicate further research by not acknowledging the original sources of the ideas they plagiarized and unfairly disregarding the original writers.

Many cases of plagiarism are simple such as global plagiarism, where the plagiarist just copies a huge portion (or its entirety) of the source. However, some types of plagiarism, such as unintentional or incremental plagiarism, are more demanding to identify.

Sometimes, using incorrect citations is not determined as plagiarism since it is an honest mistake. That said, the instructor usually warns the student and gives them another chance to correct their mistakes.

However, such errors may still lead to deductions on an academic assignment or a request for revision of a manuscript submitted for publication.

A student can be self-plagiarizing when he/she submits a paper written for one class to complete an assignment for another. Students who use the same paper in multiple classes may violate university academic integrity policies, honor codes, or ethics codes.

Is it Plagiarism If You Cite?

If you have properly paraphrased or quoted and correctly cited the source, you are not engaging in plagiarism.

However, the correct expression is essential. To avoid plagiarism, you must follow the guidelines of your citation style, be it APA, MLA, or Chicago.

It is expected that if you submit work bearing your name, you are submitting work you have done on your own. Putting your name on an assignment is as important as knowing that the work contained within it is yours unless expressly stated otherwise.

In light of this, well-cited content must make clear in order to indicate that it isn’t your original work when using work from others. Citations also show that you have done proper research and consulted appropriate texts for your assignment.

When one attempts to cite the work but does it incorrectly, things become murky. The above can include anything from simply using the wrong citation style to footnoting a passage lifted directly but not quoting it.

Depending on the circumstances, those cases differ greatly. An instructor may reduce your grade if you use the wrong citation style but won’t consider it plagiarism since the source is fully cited.

However, when citations are neither correct nor complete, they cannot definitely be considered plagiarism. If you quote a passage, it doesn’t matter if you cite the source since you gave credit only for the information.

To Wrap Up

So is it plagiarism if you cite? No, as long as you are citing your sources correctly, it is not plagiarism. On the contrary, if you don’t cite your sources in your paper, then you will be committing plagiarism!

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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