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Graduate Student Library Services: Plagiarism & Academic Honesty

Style Guides in the Library

It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:

  • To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
  • To be a responsible scholar by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
  • To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
  • To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your references, works cited, or bibliography page

You must cite:

  • Facts, figures, ideas, or other information that is not common knowledge including paraphrases, summaries, and direct quotations.
  • Ideas, words, theories, or exact language that another person used in other publications or interviews.
  • Publications that must be cited include books, book chapters, articles, web pages, films, reports, etc.

When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!

Citations have two components: in-text references & a Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page. This guide will help you create both types of citations for MLA 8 & APA.

Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools enable researchers to capture information about research materials, create bibliographies, add footnotes, and manage research collections.  Some citation management tools also make it easy to share references with other researchers.


Zotero is a free tool that will help you collect, organize and manage citations.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Is It Plagiarism?

Plagiarism: Taking credit for someone’s intellectual work or ideas

Why Should You Care about Plagiarism?

  • Students can fail a class or be suspended from college if they commit plagiarism at MVC.

  • Professionals can be sued or lose a job if they commit plagiarism.

  • In American society, it is generally expected to give others credit for their work.

When Writing a Paper or Preparing for a Presentation, Ask Yourself:

  • Is this my idea or did the idea come from another source (like a book or website)?

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that most educated people, including you, know without research. Common knowledge does not need to be cited.  Facts such as a basic biography of an author, historic dates, or widely acknowledged scientific facts, do not need to be cited.

It is important to remember that common knowledge varies depending on author, audience, or discipline.  What is common knowledge to a biologist is not common knowledge to an economist. Some examples of common knowledge:

  • Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States.

  • Kim Kardashian is a reality television star.

  • The boiling point of water is 212°F.


A quotation is a direct, word-for-word, copy from a source. Use quotations sparingly; never have your writing contain more than 25% quotations. When to use quotations:

  • If summarizing or paraphrasing cannot capture the essence or meaning of the text 

  • To retain a specific or unique phrasing used by the source's author

  • If you are analyzing the text itself (often in English or language classes)

How to use quotations

  • Place quotation marks around the entire word-for-word passage, whether it's a phrase or a sentence.

  • Attribute with an in-text citation

  • If your quotation is longer, check with your citation style guide to see if additional formatting is necessary (block quotations, for example).  


Avoiding Plagiarism

The following definition of plagiarism and academic dishonesty comes from the Academic Catalog

Academic integrity is expected and required of all students. Students and faculty are responsible and accountable for personally upholding that integrity. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, and students found to have engaged in academic dishonesty will be disciplined according to this policy.

Types of Academic Dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Copying from another student in a test or examination situation
  • Using unauthorized material or aids in the preparation of an assignment or project
  • Possessing unauthorized material or aids in a test or examination situation
  • Allowing another person to take a test or examination in one’s place; taking a test or examination in another person’s place
  • Altering or falsifying academic records in any way
  • Submitting false medical, academic or other documentation required by the college
  • Improperly obtaining through theft, bribery, collusion, or otherwise any test or examination paper prior to the date and time for writing such test or examination
  • Aiding, assisting, or encouraging another to engage in an act of academic dishonesty
  • Plagiarizing materials or works, in whole or in part, prepared by another person without citing appropriate reference credit
  • Copying and submitting, in whole or in part, the work of another in an assignment, report, project, etc. as one’s own.*
  • Claiming to have completed assigned tasks that were, in fact, completed by another person.*
  • Failing to accurately document information, wording or visual images obtained on the World Wide Web.*
  • Violating federal copyright laws including unauthorized duplication of copyrighted materials.
  • *At the instructor’s discretion, so called “self-plagiarism,” or submitting work that was written or completed for one instructor or class to a different instructor or class without the instructor’s knowledge and approval.

When an instructor has reason to believe a student has engaged in academic dishonesty, the instructor will:

  1. Confer with student, explain why the instructor believes that academic dishonesty has occurred, and provide support for this assertion.
  2. Allow the student to provide an explanation, including supporting evidence (if any).
  3. Evaluate the student’s explanation and supporting evidence (if any).
  4. Make a determination as to whether a violation of the Academic Dishonesty Policy has occurred. If there is no finding of a policy violation, the matter will be deemed resolved upon written notification of the student. If there is a finding of a policy violation, the instructor (and division chair/dean/graduate program director, if applicable) should complete the Academic Dishonesty Documentation Form.
    1. The instructor will ascertain from the Vice President of Academic Affairs’ assistant whether the student has previously been found to have violated the Academic Dishonesty Policy while enrolled at the College.
    2. If the student has no other substantiated violations of the policy, the instructor will apply an appropriate penalty (see the “Penalties” section below for a list of possible penalties that may be applied when there is a finding of academic dishonesty). The instructor should give due consideration to the seriousness of the offense as well as the impact of the penalty imposed on the student’s education.
    3. If the student has one previous violation of the policy, the instructor should consult with the division chair/dean/graduate program director to determine the appropriate penalty.
    4. If the student has two previous violations of the policy, the automatic penalty is expulsion from the College. The Vice President of Academic Affairs should be notified immediately.
  5. 5. Notify the student in writing of the decision as to whether a policy violation has occurred, including any penalties imposed (if applicable). If a violation has occurred, complete and present the Academic Dishonesty Documentation Form to the student. The student’s signature serves as verification of notification. The student may also provide a written response on the form.
  6. Provide copies to the student, division chair/dean/graduate program director (if requested), and the Vice President of Academic Affairs.


A student guilty of cheating will be subject to a penalty appropriate to the nature and seriousness of the offense. A record of all such cases will be kept in the Vice President of Academic Affairs Office. Second offenses for the same individual will be subject to a more serious penalty than the one previously imposed. The following penalties may be applied:

  • Reprimand.
  • Reduction in grade on the assignment without the opportunity to resubmit.
  • Requirement that the student repeats and resubmits the same or alternate assignment. In such cases, the grade or mark awarded will be reduced or limited at the discretion of the faculty member.
  • Completion of the Plagiarism Tutorial found at the student’s Moodle site.
  • A mark of “0” will be given for the assignment with no opportunity to resubmit. This may result in failure of the course.
  • Lowering of final grade in the class by one full letter grade. (This may result in failure of the course.)
  • A mark of “0” will be given for the assignment with no opportunity to resubmit, and a lowering of final grade in the class by one full letter grade. (This may result in failure of the course.)
  • A failing (F) grade will be awarded in the course.
  • Automatic failing (F) grades in all courses in which the student is registered, and no fees will be refunded for that semester. This penalty will only be imposed by the student’s chair/dean/graduate program director with approval from the Chief Academic Officer.
  • Expulsion from Missouri Valley College, permanently recorded on the student’s record. This penalty will result in automatic failing (F) grades in all courses in which the student is registered, and no fees will be refunded for that semester. For a third academic dishonesty offense, automatic penalty is expulsion from the College.