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This guide introduces the concept of plagiarism, plagiarism policies Kirkwood, and tips on how to avoid plagiarism.

Help with Avoiding Plagiarism

Why is plagiarism a concern for students, instructors, and professionals?

  1. Plagiarism is sloppy: when you don't properly attribute your sources as a student or as a professional, this indicates to your teachers and readers that you are not capable of clearly stating your ideas, or of coming up with original ideas. 
  2. Plagiarism is unethical: when you plagiarize you are presenting the ideas, information or words of someone else as if they were your own original ideas and words. 
  3. Plagiarism, also called Academic Dishonesty, is a serious academic offense: by plagiarizing you face strict and specific  consequences that can affect your assignment, your course, and your college career. 

To get help with avoiding plagiarism in your own work, see the help videos and handouts below, or make an appointment with one of Kirkwood's Writing Centers. 

Organize & Track Your Research

This document is a quick guide to good practices that will keep your research project and all your resources organized, which will help you avoid unintended plagiairsm. It will also help you keep track of your citations and in-text citations.

Checklist for Avoiding Plagiarism

    1) Are you using your own independent material (i.e., material that reflects your own thoughts, opinion)?

    □ Yes            □ No

    • If Yes, OK. If No, you need to CITE.

    2) Are you using common knowledge (i.e., something that everyone knows)?

    □ Yes            □ No

    • If Yes, OK. If No, you need to CITE.

    3) Are you using someone else’s independent material (i.e., material NOT your own thoughts)?

    □ Yes            □ No

    • If Yes, you need to CITE. If No, OK.

    4) Do all the quotations exactly match their source?

    □ Yes □ No

    • If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure they are correctly matched.

    5) Have you used your own words and sentence structures for every paraphrase and summary related to another’s work?

    □ Yes □ No

    • If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure you use quotation marks around the author’s/authors’ words.

    6) Have you included an in-text citation for every paraphrase and summary related to another’s work?

    □ Yes □ No

    • If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure you create an in-text citation for each reference to another’s work, even when you put that idea into your own words.

    7) Does your list of References include all the sources you have mentioned in your paper?

    □ Yes □ No

    • If Yes, well done! If No, you need to make sure all of the sources you mention in your paper are listed on the References page.

    Source: Reproduced with permission of Erin K. Elgin, Business Instructor on Iowa City Campus.

    Kirkwood Student Policy on Cheating and Plagiarism

    Kirkwood students are responsible for authenticating any assignment submitted to an instructor. If asked, you must be able to produce proof that the assignment you submit is actually your own work. Therefore, we recommend that you engage in a verifiable working process on assignments. Keep copies of all drafts of your work, make photocopies of research materials, write summaries of research materials, hang onto Writing Center receipts, keep logs or journals of your work on assignments and papers, and save drafts or versions of assignments under individual file names on your computer.

    The inability to authenticate your work, should an instructor request it, is sufficient ground for failing the assignment. In addition to requiring students to authenticate their work, Kirkwood Community College instructors may employ various other means of ascertaining authenticity – such as engaging in Internet searches, creating quizzes based on student work, or requiring students to explain their work or process orally.

    Procedure and penalties for confirmed cheating and plagiarism are:

    First Offense:The instructor will have the authority to issue a failure on the paper, exam or assignment on which cheating or plagiarism was established. A record of the incident will be reported to the dean of students.

    Second Offense: Upon confirmation of the student’s second offense by the dean of students, the instructor will have the authority to issue a failure for the course in which the second incident occurred.

    Third Offense: Upon confirmation of the student’s third offense by the dean of students, the student will be subject to suspension from the college for one semester.

    Source: Student Policies: Academic and Enrollment Policies from

    Self-Plagiarism from APA Sixth Edition

    It is seldom acceptable to reuse papers you've previously written for a different assignment or a different course. If you have specific questions about re-using something you've previously written for credit within another credit-bearing assignment, please ask your instructor for guidance.

    The Sixth Edition of the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual addresses this issue in the world of professional research and publishing, in what it calls "self-plagiarism" on page 16:

    "Self-plagiarism. Just as researchers do not present the work of others as their own (plagiarism), they do not present their own previously published work as new scholarship (self-plagiarism). There are, however, limited circumstances (e.g., describing the details of an instrument or an analytic approach) under which authors may wish to duplicate without attribution (citation) their previously used words, feeling that extensive self referencing is undesirable or awkward. When the duplicated words are limited in scope, this approach is permissible. When duplication of one's own words is more extensive, citation of the duplicated words should be the norm. What constitutes the maximum acceptable length of duplicated material is difficult to define but must conform to legal notions of fair use. The general view is that the core of the new document must constitute an original contribution to knowledge, and only the amount of previously published material necessary to understand that contribution should be included, primarily in the discussion of theory and methodology. When feasible, all of the author's own words that are cited should be located in a single paragraph or a few paragraphs, with a citation at the end of each. Opening such paragraphs with a phrase like "as I have previously discussed" will also alert readers to the status of the upcoming material."

    Recommended Websites

    Faculty Resources for Plagiarism Prevention

    Plagiarism Tutorial

    Kirkwood Library Services has developed, along with individual faculty from across the college, a collection of plagiarism tutorials and quizzes that can be embedded directly into your Talon course and assigned to students. See our Faculty Services guide for more information.

    Credo InfoLit Academic Integrity Tutorial

    Library Services subscribes to a set of research tutorials which include a modules on Academic Integrity and on Citing Sources. These tutorials and accompanying quizzes may be embedded in your Talon courses. See our Faculty Services guide for more information.

    Plagiarism resources from Purdue OWL

    There are many resources for teachers to support student understanding of plagiarism: Avoiding Plagiarism

    Turnitin Originality Checking

    Kirkwood now subscribes to the Turnitin service, which can check student documents for possible plagiarism. More information on this service, and directions on how to use it in your Talon course, are available in the Talon Instructor Training course

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