Skip to Main Content

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

A guide for students, faculty, and staff defining plagiarism and detailing how to avoid academic dishonesty.

Resources for Students


Committing plagiarism by presenting as one’s own work, for academic evaluation or assignment, the ideas, representations, or works of another person or persons or oneself without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources (Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities [PDF], p. 7).

Using Information Appropriately, aka Avoiding Plagiarism

Once you understand that plagiarism is using another's words or ideas and claiming them as your own, you should have an idea how to avoid plagiarizing.  When you use someone else's words or ideas, you must acknowledge the author.

  • When you want to use a phrase from a book, website, movie (or anything with a fixed form) you must use quotation marks to indicate that it is a quote.  You must also acknowledge the source with a citation.
  • When you paraphrase, you must rewrite in your own words.  Simply changing or moving words around is not paraphrasing.  The grammatical structure of the passage should be significantly different!

Resources on Plagiarism

[Video] Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It

This LinkedIn Learning video provides a good overview of how to identify plagiarism and some best practices to take for avoiding it. 

Use link below the video player if you want LinkedIn Learning to track your completion of this video. A transcript for the video is also available through the link. 

Web Resources

Citing Sources

One of the basic components of avoiding plagiarism is properly citing your sources.

  • Use the the "Citation Resources" guide to find resources on how to cite your research in a number of common citation styles including MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian.
  • Use the "Research Path - Why Cite?" tutorial to understand the role citation plays and see more tutorials on MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian. 
  • Watch the "Why We Cite" video to learn why citation is so important to academic integrity. 
  • Watch the "When and How to Cite" video to understand when sources should be cited including what sources need citation and citation with quotations versus summaries and paraphrases. 

Text Recycling

Text recycling is the reuse of your older writing in a new context without quoting it or citing it. Text recycling is sometimes negatively called "self-plagiarism," though there are many cases where it is normal for researchers to reuse at least parts of their older writings. A researcher might reuse language about their research methods they wrote for a grant proposal in the journal article that comes out of the research that grant funded, for example. 

However, the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities [PDF] is very clear that, when you are working on assignments at the University of Memphis, you cannot reuse your older work unless you have received permission from your instructor. The section on academic misconduct includes this in the list of examples of academic dishonesty:

Knowingly submitting one’s work for multiple assignments or classes unless explicitly authorized by the instructor;

You learn through practice and creating new work, and in most cases reusing something that you already did will not help with that. If you feel like there would be a good reason to recycle your older text, talk to your instructor about getting permission.

Get Writing Help

Center for Writing and CommunicationAre you unsure about how to incorporate quotations into your paper? Think your paraphrase might not be good enough? Can't quite figure out how to get the citation right? The Center for Writing and Communication (CWC), housed on the first floor of McWherter Library, offers free, individual consultations in-person and online. 

Watch this video for an overview of the CWC and its services: