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Academic Honesty - Library Guide to Writing it Right

When you write a paper for a university class, you will be expected to express the results of your research in your own words. Copying an entire paper, or words or ideas from a source and presenting this as your own work is called plagiarism and is a major form of academic dishonesty.

When and How to Quote from Other Documents

When you quote, include a citation (in-text, footnote or endnote) that identifies precisely where the quotation came from. 
The example below uses a footnote:

"There were differences in attitude and practice between the men of the two companies; yet fur-trade society developed its own marriage rite, marriage à la façon du pays, which combined both Indian and European marriage customs. In this, the fur-trade society of Western Canada appears to have been exceptional."1

1. Sylvia Van Kirk. Many Tender Ties: Women in fur-trade society, 1670-1870. (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983), 4.

How to Paraphrase Information in Other Documents

When you paraphrase a source, you are required to give credit for information and ideas you have taken from that source.

Acceptable paraphrasing:

Van Kirk points out that the fur-trade in Western Canada formed a unique society based on marriages between Indian woman and European traders. A form of marriage à la façon du pays developed which was based on a combination of Indian and European traditions.

This writer has rephrased most of Van Kirk's paragraph in his own words, but has clearly indicated that the idea comes from her work.

Unacceptable Paraphrasing

Fur-trade society developed a marriage rite, marriage à la façon du pays, which combined European and Indian customs. This was very different from the way white men treated native women in most other areas of the world, where sexual contact was usually illicit and essentially peripheral to the trading or colonization ventures.

This is unacceptable because it just rewrites Van Kirk's sentences and doesn't acknowledge her as the source of either the information or the central idea.

Using Commonly Known Facts

Commonly known facts are basic facts that can be found in any source on the subject. Because they're so commonly known, you don't need to provide a source for the information.


Sir John A. MacDonald was Canada's first Prime Minister.

Saskatoon, situated on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, is often called the City of Bridges.

Find Out More

Information on Citation Style Guides

S.A. Martin 2003          Updated/Abridged: M. Gagné 2009