Detecting plagiarism may be an endless battle for instructors, but avoiding it is sometimes easier said than done for students. For many college students, knowing when and how to cite correctly is the biggest challenge. With only so many hours in a semester, writing and citation instructions are not always able to be covered in-class. To give students an idea of where to begin, share these tips with them for easily avoiding plagiarism.

Avoiding plagiarism

Students, plagiarism is possibly the easiest crime to commit in college–and can come with one of the biggest consequences. Check your school handbook as well as each class’s syllabus to see what the consequence for plagiarism. It may be anything from failing the assignment to expulsion.

In their book, WRITE 2: Paragraphs and Essays, 1st Edition, authors Dave Kemper, Verne Meyer, John Van Rys, Patrick Sebranek, and Greg Holditch explain that while plagiarism comes in many forms and may be intentional or unintentional, it’s important to avoid at all costs, and ignorance is no excuse. Kemper suggests the following tips for avoiding plagiarism:

1. Start early! Many students plagiarize because they “ran out of time.”
2. Be familiar with proper citation format (see the remainder of this chapter).
3. Give credit and citations for everything—it’s better to give too much credit than not enough.
4. Make sure you have access to the sources you are using so you can easily check page numbers. Save a PDF to your computer, or make a photocopy of articles you use as source material.
5. Make sure you double-check all of your paraphrasing.
6. Choose a topic that interests you. Many students plagiarize because they view the assignment as boring and a “waste of time.”
7. Do not give other students copies of your work.
8. Understand what the defnitions of plagiarism are; ignorance is not an excuse. (95)

For tips on formulating citations and formating various paper-writing styles, visit‘s post, “Writing a research paper part 4: Revising, formatting, fine-tuning citations and writing your conclusion.”

Questia Research Tools

We’ve heard the many pain-points from students and instructors, and we’ve been hard at work on ways to help. This week, our very own team at Questia, the online research and writing tool for college students and valued part of Cengage Learning, announced the launch of a browser extension aimed to streamline students’ research process.

The extension, called “Questia Research Tools” in the Chrome Web Store, is a capture tool that allows members to save and cite research from the Questia library of over 83,000 books and 10 million articles as well as from any book or article, online or in print.

This means your students can spend more time learning and less time sorting through piles of messy notes. And you’ll spend less time worrying about plagiarism since this tool makes it so easy for students to accurately cite and build bibliographies.

For more information on how the Questia extension can help research and write your next term paper, visit our blog post, “Cengage Learning Launches New Browser Extension Tool Allowing for Research Simplicity.”

What do you believe is the biggest challenge students must overcome when it comes to citations and avoiding plagiarism? Share your thoughts below.

Reference: Kemper, Dave; Verne Meyer; John Van Rys; Patrick Sebranek; and Greg Holditch. 2012. WRITE 2: Paragraphs and Essays.. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.