Skip to Main Content

Research Guide Department of Spanish and Portuguese: Important Considerations

Avoiding Plagiarism

Listening Activity

  • L’homme Arme by Flemish Guillaume Du Fay (1397-1474)
  • A rondeau for three voices by English Renaissance composer Robert Morton (c.1430-c.1479) based on the tune L’homme Arme.


If you are writing a research paper, you will probably be relying on prior scholarship related to your topic. Be careful, people who use the intellectual property of another person without providing correct attribution are plagiarizing. When some people plagiarize, they might make the content look like theirs when it is not theirs.

Patch Writing

People are copying word-for-word content providing citations but not quotation marks. People may also copy textual content providing sources to the wrong paper.

Is plagiarism applied only to written content?

No. People can plagiarize music, photography, and other means of expression and intellectual property.

Is copying ok sometimes?

Yes, it is ok to use generic phrases in scholarly writing that is not considered a part of intellectual property:

  • The purpose of this paper is to investigate…
  • More research should be required to answer…
  • The aid of this paper was to discover…

How do I avoid plagiarism?

  • Use quotation [“  ”] marks when using a word-by-word narrative that belongs to another person
  • Use the appropriate citation to provide attribution
  • All in-text citations should have a complete citation in your reference list (works cited) or bibliography
  • Be consistent with the citation style required
  • Be careful with creative content (photograph, image) that has full copyright protection, if the copyright holder does not authorize its use, it is better not to use it. Fair use may apply in some instances, but you have to make sure “this use” falls under the fair use doctrine.


Ko, Chiu, Lo, and Ho (2015) have revealed that “based on the…” (p. 568).

  • The author is using quotations to establish that the text inside the quotation marks belong to “Ko, Chiu, Lo, and Ho
  • The author also provides the year of publication and page number

Canalys (2012) reported that smartphones…

  • The author will paraphrase information provided by another author (Canalys)
  • The author provides the year of publication

…the number of downloads of such games is steadily increasing (Schroeder, 2011)

  • The authors are using their own words to refer to something said by another author (Schroeder)
  • The author provides the year of publication

Color photograph of a protest displaying a sign that reads "viva la France."

Viva la France Provided by Fabien Dany. Used under license CC BY-SA 2.0

  • When using images that are licensed with “sharing” permissions make sure to provide links to the source of the image, the person providing the image, and the Creative Commons license information for the image
  • Refer to Creative Commons
Check the four factors of fair use
What is copyright?



  • Use quotation marks when using the same words as stated in the original source and cite it.
  • Use your own idea.
  • Cite information you took from another source.
  • Paraphrase and cite it.
  • Common knowledge does not need a citation.
  • When in doubt, cite it.
You still do not know – Your librarian can help!
Check Citing Others

Our new library catalog is here!

Full details on our library services platform migration project & timeline.