Skip to Main Content

MHS Library | Referencing

A good summary of how to avoid plagiarism by acknowledging your sources from La Trobe University

Paraphrasing ideas in your writing

How to avoid plagiarism?

How to avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism can sometimes be the result of poor note taking, or paraphrasing without properly citing the reference. You can avoid plagiarism by:

  • citing your references
  • referencing correctly
  • recording direct quotes and paraphrases correctly when note taking.


When you use the exact words, ideas or images of another person, you are quoting the author. If you do not use quotation marks around the original author's direct words and cite the reference, you are plagiarising.


Paraphrasing is when you take someone else's concepts and put them into your own words without changing the original meaning. Even though you are not using the same words you still need to state where the concepts came from.

Note taking

Poor note taking can lead to plagiarism. You should always take care to:

  • record all reference information correctly
  • use quotation marks exactly as in the original
  • paraphrase correctly
  • clearly distinguish your own ideas from the ideas of other authors and researchers.

How to avoid plagiarism (APA Style Guide)

Including information about patchwriting:

• Another common type of word plagiarism occurs when students mistakenly think they have paraphrased an author’s words because they added or removed a few words or replaced some of the words with synonyms. This is called patchwriting. If your wording has a similar sentence structure and uses the same words and phrases of the original author, you are patchwriting. (See the example next.) Paraphrase the idea in your own words instead.

Example passage from Ward et al. (2006): Findings indicate that media content is not uniformly negative. Information about sexual health, risks, and thoughtful decision-making is sometimes present.

Plagiarized (patchwritten) example: According to Ward et al. (2006), media content is not all negative, and information is sometimes present concerning sexual health, risks, and thoughtful decision-making.

Paraphrasing, quotation and plagiarism

If you don't reference your assignment, you might be plagiarising

Plagiarism is the presentation of another person's work, ideas, or creations as your own, without acknowledging where those ideas came from. In other words - you take credit for someone else's work.

In academic writing, this is the same as cheating on an exam.

Specifically, plagiarism is:

  • copying phrases and passages word-for-word without quotation marks and without a reference to the author; this includes but is not limited to books, journals, reports, theses, websites, conference papers and course notes
  • paraphrasing an author's work and presenting it without a reference; this includes but is not limited to sentences, paragraphs, ideas and themes
  • copying any part of another students' work
  • submitting items of assessment that are written in conjunction with other students (without prior permission of the relevant staff member)
  • submitting a piece of work has already been submitted for assessment in another course
  • presenting other people's designs and images as your own work
  • submitting work as your own that someone else has done for you.

If you have used someone else's work without acknowledging your source, you have plagiarised.

This video starts with a quick plagiarism test

This video is quite entertaining.