Ensuring Academic Integrity
and Avoiding Plagiarism

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) History of Rasselas


During your time as a student, you will study great and important ideas, well-expressed by good writers. Your mastery of that material is demonstrated by using your own words and contributing your own ideas—all the while appropriately crediting those who came before. To do otherwise, to falsely allow yourself to be credited with the work of others, is called plagiarism. At best, it betrays intellectual laziness; at worst it betrays dishonesty.

Those reading your work often want to know the source of the ideas and texts you use in your paper. Some may want to verify your accuracy, others may want to delve deeper into the material and topic.  Whatever the reason, your duty in research and writing is to keep track of the sources of the ideas you use and the texts that you quote or paraphrase. Ensuring academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism is not difficult if certain strategies are followed. Use the following strategies when you begin your research.

Strategies for Researching Correctly

  • Keep a research log in which you record where you have searched and how.
  • As you take notes, always make complete citations for each source consulted—this is where many, perhaps most, mistakes occur.
  • Use quotation marks in your notes to make it clear when you are using someone else’s words or ideas.
  • See if you can explain your ideas to a friend without referring to your notes.  If you cannot or if you find yourself using other people’s language, you may need to increase your own understanding of the subject before writing the paper or giving the presentation.
  • BSC subscribes to “TurnItIn”, a service that checks papers for appropriate use of quotes and sources.  You can submit your paper to TurnItIn and it will check for problems with plagiarism.  Ask your professor if your class is registered and get the class ID # and password.

One of your responsibilities as a student is to learn and practice the conventions for acknowledging the work of others and distinguishing it from your own. This is called the process of Citation. Regardless of the type of assignment you have—a research paper, a poster, a slideshow, or an oral presentation—you must cite all your sources.

Correct Citation Form

  • Consult with your professor to see which of the several citation methods is appropriate to the field.
  • Use the various style manuals in the BSC Library or consult the Style Manual link from the BSC Library homepage.
  • Be consistent in the citation form you use.

Style Manuals in the BSC Library

Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Ed. Ref. Z253 .U69 2003
Columbia Guide to Online Style, 2nd Ed. Ref. PN 171 .F56 W35 2006
Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations:  Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Turabian), 7th Ed. Ref. LB 2369 .T8 2007
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Ed. Ref. LB 2369 .G53 2009
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd Ed. Ref. PN 147 .G444 2008
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Assn., 6th Ed. Ref. BF 76.7 .P83 2010
Scientific Style and Format (Council of Science Editors), 7th Ed. Ref. T 11 .S386 2006
A Writer's Reference, available in the Bookstore and in the Library (Ready Ref. PE1408 .H2778 2007).

Style Manuals link on the BSC Library Page


Always Ask Yourself Two Questions:

  • Have I given credit to others’ work and ideas?
  • Are my citations complete enough to allow others to find the original item?

Helpful Sites for More Information