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Citations: Plagiarism

This guide explores the basics of citation styles and introduces tools for citing both print, database, and web sources.

Is It Plagiarism?

Is It Plagiarism?

Common Knowledge & Quoting

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that most educated people, including you, know without research. Common knowledge does not need to be cited.  Facts such as a basic biography of an author, historic dates, or widely acknowledged scientific facts, do not need to be cited.

It is important to remember that common knowledge varies depending on author, audience, or discipline.  What is common knowledge to a biologist is not common knowledge to an economist. 

Some examples of common knowledge:

  • Barack Obama is the President of the United States.

  • Kim Kardashian is a reality television star.

  • The boiling point of water is 212°F.



A quotation is a direct, word-for-word, copy from a source. Use quotations sparingly; never have your writing contain more than 25% quotations. 

When to use quotations:

  • If summarizing or paraphrasing cannot capture the essence or meaning of the text 

  • To retain a specific or unique phrasing used by the source's author

  • If you are analyzing the text itself (often in English or language classes)

How to use quotations:

  • Place quotation marks around the entire word-for-word passage, whether it's a phrase or a sentence.

  • Attribute with an in-text citation

  • If your quotation is longer, check with your citation style guide to see if additional formatting is necessary (block quotations, for example).  

Books & eBooks: Plagiarism

Paraphrasing & Summarizing


"A paraphrase precisely restates in your own words the written or spoken words of someone else," (Troyka 140). You must do more than change a few words from the original quotation or passage.

  • Do not include your own interpretation or analysis.

  • Restate the original material in its entirety.

  • Reproduce the source's ideas, analysis, or emphases.

  • Expect a paraphrase to be as long as or longer than the original stated text.

  • More thorough and detailed than a summary.

  • Citing the source: using in-text (parenthetical) citation at the end of the summary and a complete citation in the Works Cited or References page.


A summary is a brief statement of the main points of the original source.  Summaries DO NOT include supporting evidence or details, and are very short by nature.

  • Putting the main idea of the source material into your own words.  When reading ask: Who? What? When? Where?

  • Retaining the key relevant element of the original material. Do not include your interpretation/analysis.  The summary should present material in a neutral fashion.

  • Use your own words.  Do not pull quotations from text.

  • Citing the source: using in-text (parenthetical) citation at the end of the summary and a complete citation in the Works Cited or References page.

Plagiarism Checkers

Plagiarism Tutorials


The following definition of plagiarism is from the KCTCS Code of Student Conduct, Article

Plagiarism is the act of presenting ideas, words, or organization of a source, published or not, as if they were ones own.  All quoted material must be in quotation marks, and all paraphrases, quotations, significant ideas, and organization must be acknowledged by some form of documentation acceptable to the instructor for the course.

Plagiarism also includes the practice of employing or allowing another person to alter or revise the work that a student submits as the student’s own. Students may discuss assignments among themselves or with an instructor or tutor, but when the actual material is completed, it must be done by the student and the student alone. The use of the term “material” refers to work in any form including written, oral, and electronic.

All academic work, written or otherwise, submitted by a student to an instructor or other academic supervisor, is expected to be the result of the student’s own thought, research, or self- expression. In any case in which a student feels unsure about a question of plagiarism involving the student’s work, the student must consult the instructor before submitting the

Academic Rights: Students of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College should read the KCTCS Code of Student Conduct.  As portions of this code outline students’ rights (including their right to appeal), it is wise for students to know and understand these academic rights.  

The KCTCS Code of Student Conduct establishes Standards of Conduct for all KCTCS students (Section 3, page 7).  The first standard reads,

“Standard 1: KCTCS students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity, and support a campus environment that is conducive to learning and scholarship.”

The Code explains, “Violations or attempted violations may include, but are not limited to . . .[c]heating, fabrication, plagiarism or facilitating academic dishonesty.”

The KCTCS Code of Student Conduct also explains acceptable sanctions, or penalties, for academic dishonesty, cheating, and/or plagiarism (Section 4.B.ii, page 12).  Sanctions for academic dishonesty or misconduct may include, but are not limited to:

  • Requiring the student to resubmit the assignment
  • A lower or failing grade on the assignment, exam, or in the course
  • A zero for the assignment or exam
  • A failing grade in the course
  • Removal from the course
  • Referral for other disciplinary actions beyond the above sanctions

Aiming for Integrity:
How well do you know plagiarism?

Short quiz from Turnitin. Answers can be emailed to instructors.