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Early Childhood Education: Plagiarism/Integrate Sources

Guide to Early Childhood Resources

Plagiarism Spectrum from Turnitin

plagiarism spectrum 2.0 from Turnitin

Plagiarism/Integrating Sources Tutorial

Plagiarism/Integrating Sources Tutorial




What about Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using someone's words and passing them off as your own. Plagiarism is dishonest and unethical and can cause serious repercussions for students in a college setting. Plagiarism can be intentional or accidental, however most students plagiarize by not summarizing or citing correctly. Here are tips for avoiding plagiarism:

  • Plan your paper and allow yourself time. By creating an outline, allowing yourself enough time, and focusing on your purpose you are less likely to heavily copy another writer's work. 
  • Choose credible sources that contain the information that you'll need for your citations.
  • Keep up with your sources.
  • Take good notes (that include the source).
  • Read in chunks and don't try to paraphrase and summarizing sentence by sentence. By reading a chunk of information and pulling out the most relevant or important information, you are able to summarize or paraphrase what is most important to your purpose.
  • Use in-text citations throughout planning and writing of your paper.
  • Even when you change words, do not imitate the sentence structure of your source.
  • No matter what you think, it is NOT ok to copy; even if you think your teacher doesn't care or won't notice.
  • When in doubt, cite your source. 

Common Knowledge: What is it?

Common knowledge is information that your average reader doesn't have to look up and you DON'T have to cite or reference.

For example:

  • The United States has 50 states.
  • Raleigh is the capitol of North Carolina.
  • Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are in a biology class and writing for your instructor or students with more knowledge of biology than the average reader then these facts probably don't need to be cited

  • In humans, there are 80 bones that comprise the axial skeleton.

If your audience are all of a similar cultural or national group, you don't need to cite information common to shared history.

  • George Washington was the first president of the United States and is widely considered to be a Founding Father of the nation.

You always need to cite and reference:

  • Direct quotes
  • Statistics
  • References to studies done by others (even if you read about it in a different source)
  • Facts such as specific dates, numbers, or other information that your audience wouldn't know unless they have done research.

For example:

  • The projected growth for solar photovoltaic installers is 63% which is much higher than average (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). 
  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 dumped 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska's Prince William Sound (Leahy, 2019). 
  • Although pine cones seem very ordinary, the ancient Greeks associated them with Venus, the goddess of love, according to Michigan State University (2017). 

When in doubt, cite your sources!


Direct Quotes

Guidelines for Direct Quotes

A Direct Quote uses the exact words of a source. 

Think of the quote as a rare and precious jewel. 

Quotes can be super-effective in getting your point across to the reader. Just be sure you’re not stringing a bunch of quotes together – you want your voice to be stronger than the voice of your sources. You always need to interpret, analyze, add to and explain more about the quote to your reader.  

Here are some guidelines to help you decide when to use quotes:

  • Wording that is so memorable, unforgettable or powerful, or expresses a point so perfectly, that you cannot change it without weakening the meaning.
  • An important passage is so dense or rich that it requires you to analyze it closely. This requires that the passage be quoted so the reader can follow your analysis.
  • A claim you are making is such that the doubting reader will want to hear exactly what the source said. This is mostly when you criticize or disagree with a source. You want your reader to know you aren't misrepresenting the source.
  • Your attempts to paraphrase or summarize are awkward or much longer than the source material.

You may choose to quote an entire passage from a source or just words or phrases. Make sure to use signal words (see below) to move between your ideas and the words of your source. Also, always cite your work. 

Direct Quotes (MLA format):

As one of Obama's deputy assistants Yohannes Abraham explains, "It's really important to remember to just be a good person" (Scherer, Miller, and Elliott 36). 

As William Kneale suggests, some humans have a "moral deafness" which is never punctured no matter what the moral treatment (93).

For Charles Dickens, the eighteenth century was both "the best of times" and "the worst of times" (35). 

Direct Quotes (APA format)

As Ali Akbar Hamemi remarked, "There is no doubt that America is a super-power in the world and we cannot ignore them" (Vick, 2017, p. 13). 

Sometimes it may be necessary to include long direct quotes (of over 40 words) in your work if you are unable to paraphrase or summarize. A long quote is treated differently as a block quotation with a .5 inch margin from the left but still double-spaced. Notice that there are no quotation marks around the block quotations even though these are direct quotes. Here are two examples:

Block quotation with parenthetical citation:

Researchers found when studying gray wolves that coloring around eyes may change over the lifespan:

Facial color patterns change with growth in many American canid species, although no studies have directly examined such developmental changes. For example, all newborn gray wolves observed in the present study had dark-colored bodies and C-type faces with dark-colored irises. (Ueda et al., 2014, p. 4)

Ueda, S., Kumagai, G., Otaki, Y., Yamaguchi, S., & Kohshima, S. (2014). A comparison of facial color pattern and gazing behavior in canid species suggests gaze communication in gray wolves (canis lupus). PLoS One, 9(6) doi:

Block quotation with narrative citation:

Manning and Kaler (2011) describe the difficulties of using survey methods when observing owls:

Survey methods with observers outside the vehicle were 3 times more likely to displace an owl than a single vehicle stop where observers remained inside the vehicle. Owls were displaced farther distances by all survey methods compared to control trials, but distances and time displaced did not differ among survey methods.

Manning, J. A., & Kaler, R. S. A. (2011). Effects of survey methods on burrowing owl behaviors. Journal of Wildlife Management, 75(3), 525-530. Retrieved from

For more information, see page 272 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed.

If a quote runs more than four lines long, you must block the quote with a .5 margin on the left. Do not use quotation marks even though it's a direct quote.

At the conclusion of Lord of the Flies, Ralph, realizing the horror of his actions, is overcome by

great, shuddering spasms of grief that seemed to wrench his whole body. his voice rose under the black smoke before the burning wreckage of the island; and infected by that emotion, the other little boys began to shake and sob too. (Golding 186)

So, when using quotes:

  • Always have a good reason for using a direct quote. Otherwise, paraphrase or summarize.
  • Do not allow quotes to speak for themselves. Your research paper is about communicating YOUR IDEAS.  Your research simply helps prove or support those ideas.
  • Always make sure you provide an analysis of the quote.  Show your readers that you understand how the quote relates to your ideas by analyzing its significance.
  • Do not use quotes as padding. If quotes do not have adequate analysis, readers will feel that you don’t have a grasp on what that quote means, and they also might feel that you are using quotes as “filler” to take up space.
  • Use no more than 2 direct quotes per paragraph.
  • Carefully integrate quotations into your text so that they flow smoothly and clearly into the surrounding sentences. Use a signal phrase or signal verb, such as those in the following example:

As Thompson (2020) makes clear, Youtube's algorithms "can’t distinguish between true and false data, except in the most crude way" (para. 5).  


Guidelines for Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Think of Paraphrases and Summaries as your foundations

Paraphrase and summarize long passages where the main point is important to the point you are making, but the details are not. You should use paraphrasing and summarizing much more often than direct quotes. A good balance would be 75% paraphrasing and summarizing and 25% direct quotes.

Paraphrase: You are paraphrasing when you take someone else’s words and rewrite them in your own words without altering the meaning or providing interpretation. Paraphrases are about the same length as the original. Always cite your paraphrase.
Summarize: You are summarizing when you condense the author's words or ideas without altering the meaning or providing interpretation using your own words -- basically, you’re presenting the original information in a nutshell. Always cite it.

Examples of Paraphrases

Introduce paraphrases clearly in your text, usually with a signal phrase that includes the author of the source. Here is original text and paraphrased text.


Volunteers feel more socially connected, they're less lonely, and suffer from depression less, studies show. Volunteering creates physical benefits too: Regular volunteers are less likely to develop high blood pressure and live longer, some studies show. (text is from "Dalai Lama: 5 Things to Keep in Mind for the Next Four Years" from, written by Jen Christensen)

Paraphrased text in APA style:

Volunteering has psychological and physical benefits, according to studies. Along with being less depressed and lonely, volunteers also live longer and are less likely to have high blood pressure (Christensen, 2017).

Paraphrased text in MLA style:

Volunteering has psychological and physical benefits, according to studies. Along with being less depressed and lonely, volunteers also live longer and are less likely to have high blood pressure (Christensen).

Examples of Summaries

Summaries, too, need to be carefully integrated into your text. Make sure to signal the reader that you are summarizing and include the correct citation.

Here is an example of a summary in APA format:

In Christensen's article, she explores Dalai Lama's advice to people who want to find happiness in an uncertain world. His Holiness believes that people should focus on developing compassion, letting go of anger, self-reflecting, helping others, and being playful like children (Christensen, 2017). 

Here's the summary in MLA format:

In Christensen's article, she explores Dalai Lama's advice to people who want to find happiness in an uncertain world. His Holiness believes that people should focus on developing compassion, letting go of anger, self-reflecting, helping others, and being playful like children (Christensen). 

Whenever you include summaries, paraphrases, or quotations in your own writing, it is important that you identify the sources of the material; even unintentional failure to cite material is plagiarism. Be especially careful with paraphrases and summaries, where there are no quotation marks to remind you that the material is not your own.

Often, long paraphrases continue for multiple sentences. Usually you'll intext cite the source in the first sentence. It is not necessary to cite every single sentence IF you've made it clear in the narrative that the information discussed is from the before-mentioned source.

*Note that the bold words show where the information is coming from. Students should NOT bold the words.

Here's an example:

Tucker and Maddey (2020) found that predatory behavior in dogs is due to many different factors. One of the factors is the physical territory of the alleged threat. The research found that "dogs are more willing to attack or defend territory that is considered to be their own" (Tucker & Maddey, 2020, p. 81). Another factor they discovered is that dogs are more willing to prey on a threat if their human owners are nearby. In an experiment conducted over multiple days using cameras, Tucker and Maddey discovered that dogs were shown to be much more protective with predatory behavior when their owners were in the vicinity they when the owners were away. In conclusion, the research shows that dogs have innate predatory behavior traits which are enhanced by the dogs' desires to protect their human owners (Tucker & Maddey, 2020).   

If you're using information from a source more than once in a row (with no other sources referred to in between), you can use a simplified in-text citation. The first time you use information from the source, use a full in-text citation. The second time, you only need to give the page number.


Cell biology is an area of science that focuses on the structure and function of cells (Smith 15). It revolves around the idea that the cell is a "fundamental unit of life" (17). Many important scientists have contributed to the evolution of cell biology. Mattias Jakob Schleiden and Theodor Schwann, for example, were scientists who formulated cell theory in 1838 (20). 

*Thank you to the Library at Columbia College for this example.

Paraphrasing will allow you to maintain your voice and style while showing your understanding of the source material.

Reasons why you would want to paraphrase from a source:

  • To change the organization of ideas for emphasis. You may have to change the organization of ideas in the passages you pull from your sources so that you can emphasize the points  most related to your paper.  Be sure to restate in your own words, but don’t change the meaning.
  • To simplify the material. You may have to simplify complex arguments, sentences, or vocabulary.
  • To clarify the material. You may have rewrite to clarify technical passages or put specialized information into language your audience will be better able to understand.

Paraphrasing is a valuable skill because:

  • It is better than quoting information from a passage that doesn't have memorable or important words or phrases
  • It helps you control the temptation to quote too much
  • It allows the writer to put the idea of a source into their own voice (but always cite it to show it is someone else's idea).

Tips on Summarizing:

A summary is a condensed version of someone else’s writing. Like paraphrasing, summarizing involves using your own words and writing style to express another author’s ideas. Unlike the paraphrase, which presents important details, the summary presents only the most important ideas of the passage. For example, you could summarize a book in a sentence, or in several paragraphs, depending on your writing situation and audience. You may use the summary often for the following reasons:

  • To condense the material.You may have to condense or reduce the source material to pull out the  points that relate to your paper.
  • To omit extras from the material.You may have to leave out extra information from the source material so you can focus on the author’s main points.
  • To simplify the material. You may have to simply the most important complex arguments, sentences or vocabulary in the source material.

When you decide to summarize or paraphrase, avoid the following:

  • keeping the same structure of ideas and/or sentence structure
  • just changing some of the words
  • adding your ideas into the summary - be faithful to the meaning of the source material.
  • forgetting to cite your sources and use signal words.


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Plagiarism/Integrating Sources


stressed out/confused man on laptop

You are not allowed to turn in part of OR the entire paper that you've written and turned in previously. This is called self-plagiarism. Each assignment you submit at Rowan-Cabarrus should contain original work. There may be some cases in which you use previous work (perhaps you've turned in a rough draft), but it's always a good idea to ask your instructor before resubmitting previous papers or assignments, especially if they were produced for a different class.

Peas and Carrots

picture of peas and carrots

Whenever you have a reference at the end of your paper, you need at least one intext citation to go with it. Every intext citation should point to a reference at the end of your paper.

References and Intext Citations Go Together Like Peas and Carrots.

Your intext citation contains the first word(s) of your reference so the reader can find it easily.

For optimal decomposition, experts believe you should aim for a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1 (Johnson 29).

Johnson, Lorraine. "Compost Happens: The Secret to Making Quick Gardener's Gold Instead of a Slow, Stinking Mess Requires, Like Everything Else, Balance." Canadian Gardening, vol. 12, no. 1, Feb, 2001, pp. 28-33. ProQuest,


Citing a Source Within a Source (Secondhand or Secondary Source)

Academic articles, books, and other sources often refer to previously published articles, books and other sources. You'll usually see the author of the previous source in the sentence or in the intext citation.

You will NOT include this source as if you read the study yourself.

For example, there is a paper written by Anderson that is referred to in an article written by Robb. You read the article by Robb; NOT the paper by Anderson. This is what you write:

According to Anderson's 2013 study (as cited in Robb, 2019), learning APA "can be difficult, especially when students are focusing on content area and not writing styles" (p. 33). In addition, some elements of APA seem subjective to students (Anderson, 2013 as cited in Robb, 2019).

In the reference list, you include the article you read; not the article you read about.


Robb, L. (2019). Librarianship in community colleges. Journal of Libraries, 110(2), 31-35. https://doil.something/something/000000. 

Before You Begin - Tips

To use your sources (books, articles, interviews, blogs, etc.) in a research paper, there are three main techniques. 

Direct Quotes



For each of these techniques, you will need to Signal, Cite, and Comment. Signaling allows the reader to know that you are incorporating another writer's ideas, the citation gives information about where the information came from, and the comments will show your reader how this information supports your ideas.

Remember, sources are important to strengthen your argument, show contradicting opinions, share statistics, and lead your reader to more information about your topic. Using and citing sources allows your excellent research to show and helps to establish you as a credible writer.

Tip #1: Read your assignment carefully. Understand what your teacher expects. Pay attention to the instructions about types of sources that are acceptable.

Reads syllabus instructions, dominates assignments meme

Tip #2: Plan your paper using the assignment instructions. Choose a topic, angle, or perspective that meets the criteria for the paper. Do some preliminary research or critical thinking and create an outline to guide you to explore, argue, or explain your topic.


Tip #3: Choose credible resources that will support your paper. Make sure the content of the sources will support or argue the points in your outline. For more information about credibility, see the links at the top of this page for help in finding sources and also check out the Identify and Evaluate link to make sure your source is legit.


Tip #4: Follow your instructors' assignment guidelines carefully but do not over-rely on your sources. A research paper requires that you choose a topic to explore and find sources to support your ideas.Instructors expect that no more than 20-30% of your paper will come from other sources. Too much material from other sources will overpower YOUR writing.


Tip #5: When you use the three strategies (direct quotes, paraphrasing, summarizing), you must use an in-text citation and also include that source in your bibliography or works cited page. For more information about formatting, see the tab for Citations.


A Word about Patchwriting from Xavier University

Patchwriting Definition

“Copying from a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging in one-for-one synonym-substitutes.”

Howard, Rebecca Moore. “A Plagiarism Pentimento.” Journal of Teaching Writing  vol. 11, no. 2, Jan.1992, pp. 233–45.

Patchwriting is an attempt to put a source into your own words, but still fails to be a synthesis of the original. While it appears to put things in your own words, it’s still too close to the original.

For example:

  • Patching over the original source with substitutions or deletions.
  • Reflecting the original structure or organization by not producing a fully independent claim.
  • Incomplete citations.

Information is from the Xavier University Libraries at

Source Text (what the student read) Student Text (what the student wrote)
From a systems thinking perspective, increased participation provides the opportunity to break down barriers between patients and providers, and citizens and policy makers (Swanson et al., 2012).  Swanson et al. (2012) argue that more participation from all stakeholders can break down barriers between patients and providers. 
This is the original text. To include the information properly, put the chosen material in quotation marks or into you own words, and include the in-text citation.  Even with the citation, this is too close to the original on the left. The re-write here substitutes synonyms and cuts some words out.


From Sharkey-Smith, Matt. “Patchwork Paraphrasing.” Walden University Writing Center. 27 May 2014.

Why is patchwriting a problem?

Patchwriting doesn’t demonstrate synthesis or a full understanding of the original source. Substituting synonyms or rewording the structure of the statements is patchwriting and is not synthesis of information.

While it appears to put things in your own words, it’s still too close to the original. It appears to give credit to the source, but doesn’t acknowledge just how much is still mimicking the original source’s language and sentence structure.

Plagiarism and AI

Plagiarism and AI