Following these guidelines while you are doing your research and writing your paper will help you to avoid plagiarism:
The main rule to follow is to give credit where credit is due. If the idea, thoughts, words, etc., originated from outside of you, then you need to document it.
The chart below explains where you would need to credit a source and where an attribution is not required. The information in this chart - and loads of other useful facts about plagiarism originated on the OWL at Purdue's Avoiding Plagiarism page.
|Citation Required||Citation NOT required|
|Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium||Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject|
|Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing||When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments|
|When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase of another person or entity||When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.|
|When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials created by another person or entity||When you are using "common knowledge," things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)|
|When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media||When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment, including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact.|