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Referencing, Citation and Plagiarism: What Is Plagiarism?


What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a type of intellectual theft that involves "appropriating [copying] someone else's words or ideas without acknowledgment." Source: Plagiarism. (2001). In Encyclopedia of Ethics. Retrieved from

Plagiarism can include, for example:

  • forgetting to cite another's ideas, words or theories
  • improper paraphrasing, quoting or summarizing (too close to the original source)
  • copying word for word or copying images
  • buying a paper online, or from a friend
  • cutting and pasting from online sources


Why is Understanding Plagiarism SO Important?

Plagiarism is theft, whether intentional or not. As a student, your academic integrity depends on having others respect your work. A student's academic conduct is very important, and North Island College takes cases of plagiarism very seriously. Depending upon the seriousness of the offense, students who plagiarize may receive a score of zero or a grade of 'F' for an assignment, or may be suspended from a course, program, or from the College entirely.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

You can avoid plagiarism completely by referencing your sources carefully. You MUST give credit when you use content from other sources including, for example:

  • statistics, images, graphs, music, art, video clips
  • words, quotations, phrases
  • the ideas, theories, and opinions of others

Giving credit means letting your reader know clearly where you found the information and who its author or creator is. Learn the citation or reference style required for an assignment by your instructor--APA,  MLA, and Chicago are the most commonly used citation styles at NIC. For more information, refer to the Citing Sources guide on the NIC Library website.

Remember, if you want to quote another's work, word for word, use a direct quote properly formatted with a citation.

If you want to paraphrase or summarize someone else's work, read the passage, put it away and then write your own summary. Be sure to check that your work does not resemble the original source too closely. Be cautious about how you paraphrase and summarize another author's work. You must write in your own words and be careful not to just rearrange words or phrases from the original source.

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (Code of Conduct) Policy 3-06

North Island College is a place of education, training and academic inquiry. Our professional ethics require us as individuals and as an institution to adhere to principles of academic integrity. North Island College undertakes to review and inquire into allegations of academic misconduct in a timely, impartial, and accountable manner and take appropriate action when it finds that academic misconduct has occurred.

The purpose of this policy is to describe a learning environment that respects academic honesty and standards. The policy describes the procedure to follow with a student who does not conduct him/herself in accordance with the guidelines outlined in this policy. The College reserves the right to take appropriate actions when student actions conflict with these expectations.

For more information, see Policy 3-06 in the North Island College Policies & Procedures Manual.

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