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October 31, 2022

3 Ways You Might Be Plagiarizing — and 3 Ways to Avoid it

Academic honesty isn’t just a moral standard — it makes you a stronger student

It’s 11:45 p.m., and you have an essay due at midnight. After working on this assignment all evening, you are 100 words shy of the word count. Copying a paragraph from the internet into your essay suddenly seems like the best way to finish your assignment on time. 

Busy students might feel pressure to plagiarize.

Think again! If you don’t give credit to the paragraph’s author, that’s plagiarism. In this article, we’ll walk through what plagiarism is and how it can be avoided.

What is plagiarism?

The CES Honor Code defines plagiarism as “using other peoples’ words, ideas, or data without citing, quoting, or referencing the original author.”1 It is a form of academic dishonesty. On the bright side, learning how to correctly use resources makes you a more credible writer, researcher, and creator.

Ways you might be plagiarizing

Here are some common ways people plagiarize — whether accidentally or on purpose.

1. Not giving proper credit where it’s due

If you borrow an idea (that is not common knowledge) or words from an outside source (like a book or a website), remember to give the original author credit. Your teacher will tell you what style of citation or reference you should use for your class (i.e. MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

2. Submitting one assignment to more than one instructor (without permission)

You can actually plagiarize yourself. If you submit the same essay to multiple instructors, that’s academic dishonesty, because one of the essays was copied without acknowledging the original source (your other essay).

3. Submitting another person’s work under your name   

When you complete your own work, you’re not just being honest — you’re learning!

Some people purchase essays online or ask a friend to complete their assignments. If you are struggling with an assignment, don’t ask someone else to do the work — ask your instructor for help or see a tutor.

Ways to avoid plagiarism

You can avoid plagiarism by honestly using outside sources in your work. Here are three ways to do that.

1. Direct quoting

When you copy something from an outside source word-for-word, that’s called a direct quote. Quotation marks tell readers which words belong to someone else. Here’s an example:

In her April 2022 General Conference message, Sister Susan H. Porter said, “When we invite the power of God into our lives, we can replace the ‘spirit of heaviness’ with inspired perspectives that lift others.”

2. Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is taking someone else’s words and restating them in a new way. Since it is not the original quote, you do not need quotation marks, but you should include a citation. Here’s an example using that same quote:

Sister Porter said that God’s power raises us above our struggles so we can lift those around us.2

3. Summarizing

You can also summarize the general idea of someone else’s work. Summarizing is broader than paraphrasing. We could summarize Sister Porter’s message like this:

In Sister Porter’s general conference message, “Lessons at the Well,” she teaches how Christ enables us to heal ourselves and help others through small acts.3

You are capable of creating fresh, original ideas!

Use these tips to be the best student you can be! When you create your own original work and properly credit sources you use, you become a more capable creator. Like the people of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, we should always strive to be “perfectly honest and upright in all things.”4

What blessings have you received from being academically honest? Comment below!

1. ^ CES Honor Code,” 2021,
2. ^ Susan H. Porter, “Lessons at the Well,” Liahona, May 2022
3. ^ Ibid
4. ^ Alma 27:27

Comments on "3 Ways You Might Be Plagiarizing — and 3 Ways to Avoid it"

etefe miranda says:

This is very awesome. It was extremely helpful. Thank you.

Thanks for this piece. I have been reminded of what I learn about plagiarism, and I will always ensure I follow the rules. I will never copy someone else work without giving proper acknowledgement. Thanks.

Abdullahtif Musiimaami says:

It was a great lesson reminding us about plagiarism.

I am so grateful for these tips. They are very helpful, and I am extremely touched by this information. This is a great knowledge.

Edward Addo says:

Thank you for this great information. I have learned a lot from it. I now know how to handle assignments without plagiarizing.

Chigbu Precious says:

I tend to learn whatever it is I am working on better when I do the work myself rather than when I copy.
Thank you for elaborating on this topic. I have a better understanding now.

jean-luc says:

I am extremely touched by this information.

bright Aziegbe says:

Indeed, this is a great knowledge.

Annie says:

Thank you for your tips. They are very helpful to me.

Richele says:

Thank you for this. It helped clarify some things!

Duma Andrew says:

Thank you very much BYU-Pathway Support for putting us on the right track.

Carmen Lucia Pereira says:

I’m grateful for having this instructions about plagiarism. They enlightened me!

Ray says:

I just can’t explain the joy and pride I feel for myself when my instructor grades my work! I know it was my complete effort. Nice article 👍

Walsiejean Hughes says:

“HUA!” (Heard! Understood! Acknowledged!)
– commonly accepted and expected response by U.S. Marine Corps/Navy – Military in general, in one form or another.

Ifeanyi chidinma says:

I’ve been striving to be academically honest. It has been very easy for me to do most of my assignments on my own.

Christian Sunday says:


Arineitwe Habibu says:

Information received with love and noted.

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