Copy That: How Students can Avoid Plagiarizing, Handling Citation Challenges

PurdueLogoPlagiarizing or inaccurate references in schoolwork can lead to serious consequences, and Purdue University's Online Writing Lab offers tips and style guides to help students accurately document their work.

"Plagiarizing is serious, and it often occurs when students don't know how to cite sources," says Tammy Conard-Salvo, associate director of the Writing Lab. "With so much information to access online and digitally it is easy for people to forget where it came from. And citation rules are not just about text but also images and audio recordings. It all needs to be cited, and OWL resources are helpful so people don't have to memorize these rules."

Digital and online resources provide vast amounts of information, and students can learn how to document as they gather the information. For example, use "Q" to mark quotes or "ME" if it is an original thought. These tips and more are available online. Videos also are available online to help with citations of single or multiple sources and style guides.

"It is never too young to learn the importance and methods of proper citation," Conard-Salvo says. "Consequences of turning in work that is not yours can lead to poor grades or worse. And proper citation is not just about grades but about making sure others can find the sources a writer has used."

OWL received more than 248 million visits last year, and the online resource is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The site also offers tips about writing, including grammar, mechanics and punctuation, and the writing process. Teachers and instructors also can access PowerPoint presentations about many of these writing and grammar topics to use in classrooms.