How To Avoid Academic Plagiarism in Your Writing

Developed by Jack McLarnon (’20), Writing Center Tutor & Writing Fellow


Whenever you use information from a source that you did not know before you did your writing or research, immediately credit that source in your paper, using one of these three ways:

Parenthetical: Put parentheses ( ) right after a quote or idea that has come from someone else. In these parentheses, write the last name of the author and page number on which you found the information.

Footnotes: Place a superscript number 1,2,3… right after the quote or idea. This then has a matching number at the bottom of the page that tells the author, title, date, publisher, page number, etc.

Endnotes: Place a superscript number 1,2,3… right after the quote or idea. This then has a matching number at the end of your paper that tells the author, title, date, publisher, page number, etc.

If you are directly taking the words of another writer, always remember to place those words in quotes “ ”. Some professors prefer that you use a particular citation style. To be safe, check all essay prompts and the syllabus for the class.


Often, a paper or project will require a bibliography, a.k.a. the “Works Cited” page. This page is simply a reference that lists all the sources you used to write your work. Each source is distinguished by a new paragraph, using the format of the hanging indent:

Lastname, Firstname. Title of the Book I Used. Publisher…

There are multiple acceptable styles for bibliographies and citations, with MLA, APA, CSE, and Chicago being the most popular ones. Below are links to appropriate format guides on the Bates website:

Finally, a few reminders:

  • Make sure you know which type of source you are citing, since the rules are different for websites, books, journal articles, etc.
  • Bibliographic sources should be put in alphabetical order.
  • Put your Works Cited page at the end of the document.

The first time you mention a source in a footnote or endnote, include all of the citation information for it. Ex: author, full title, host source (website, journal, anthology, etc.), publisher, date, page.

After you have cited a source in a note once, any other time you have the same source in a footnote or endnote you do NOT have to include all information.

For citing a source that you have already cited, the footnote or endnote only needs the author’s last name, shortened title, and page number(s).


Plagiarism is a kind of academic theft, in which one scholar takes another scholar’s work without acknowledging the original source material. Morally, plagiarism is problematic for the way it lies about who did the work, and it also devalues the time and effort put in by the original scholar. Academically, plagiarism can lead to serious trouble for students:

  • The Office of Student Support and Community Standards is brought in. After investigating, they may punish students with probation, suspension, or even expulsion from Bates.
  • Professors might also lower the grade of the assignment, possibly as low as 0.
  • Plagiarizing by accident can still cause trouble, so be careful to avoid it!
  • When you are gathering information and ideas for your own writing, pay attention to where you are getting each specific detail from. It can help to take notes with sources and page numbers reminding you where you found them.
  • Avoid citing other people’s analysis. If a scholar uses a smart theory or idea, it is okay to draw off that for inspiration in your own work…however, try not to take ideas that analyze the same text or subject you are writing about.
  • Instead, do your own analysis and critical thinking.
  • If you do end up taking analysis from another scholar, CITE IT!
  • Sometimes the course syllabus will include the required texts of a class and cite them, telling the preferred style for your own citations for that class’s papers.
  • Common knowledge and class lecture or discussion does not always need to be cited. Use your best judgment.

Student Guide to Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures.” Bates, 2016-2017.

Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices,” Council of Writing Program Administrators, January 2003.

CBB Plagiarism Resource Site. 2003-2007.