Skip to Main Content

Information Literacy Instruction

Use information

Types of plagiarism

Plagiarism, a form of academic dishonesty and a violation of the Centre Academic Honesty Policy, is something all students want to avoid, but to do so, it is important to understand what constitutes plagiarism. Here are the definitions of the most common forms of plagiarism:

Direct plagiarism: A type of intentional plagiarism. Copying another person’s entire work and turning it in as your own.

Self-plagiarism: A type of intentional plagiarism. When you turn in the same work to multiple classes or when you republish part/all of one of your own works without citing the original publication.

Sharing work plagiarism: A type of intentional plagiarism. When you allow another person to turn in or publish your work as theirs; or when you turn in or publish work someone else has shared with you as your own.

Purchasing plagiarism: A type of intentional plagiarism. When you pay a business, professional or another student for a finished paper or to write a paper for you.

Copy/paste plagiarism: A type of intentional plagiarism. Copying a phrase, sentence or paragraph(s) from another person’s work and using them, verbatim, in your own work without putting them in quotes and citing them.

Find/replace or mosaic plagiarism: These terms both refer to the most common form of unintentional plagiarism - the practice of copying sentences or paragraphs from another person’s work and then replacing some key words with their synonyms, but keeping the overall structure of the original work. Even if you add a proper citation, this is still plagiarism. To avoid this type of plagiarism, you must properly summarize or paraphrase by restating the original author completely in your own words and then adding the citation.

Improper citing: A type of intention or, sometimes, unintentional plagiarism. When you cite the wrong source. This may be unintentional if you do not carefully track your sources. It may be intentional if you make up fake citations to support your arguments or if you knowingly cite a wrong source because you can’t find/remember where you found evidence used in your paper.

You can avoid plagiarism by:

  1. Carefully tracking your sources as you conduct your research so that you can properly cite them later.
  2. Learning how to properly paraphrase/summarize and integrate your evidence into your papers.
  3. Properly citing your sources.

See the next tabs on this page for more information about how to properly paraphrase, summarize and integrate evidence into your papers. See the "Cite Information" page for guides to properly use MLA, APA, Chicago etc citations.

Quote, Paraphrase, or Summarize?

When writing a research paper, you will be asked to include support or evidence for your arguments using sources, such as data, statistics, books or journal articles. In order to refer to information from these sources, you can (1) quote exact words, (2) paraphrase specific ideas, or (3) summarize parts of or the entire work. These three options for referencing a source can be useful in different situations, depending on the information being used, its length and clarity, and your purpose for incorporating it. Below, the differences between quoting, summarizing, and paraphrasing are described.


Quoting a source means that you directly use a source’s words to convey their point. The quoted text/wording should appear exactly as it does in the source being used, although you may use ellipsis or brackets to indicate any changes you make in order to make your sentence grammatically correct. Remember that you must put quotation marks around all quoted material.

When would you use a quotation? Here are a few very good reasons that you might want to use a quote rather than a paraphrase or summary:    
1. Accuracy: You are unable to paraphrase or summarize the source material without changing the author’s intent.
2. Authority: You may want to use a quote to lend expert authority for your assertion or to provide source material for analysis.
3. Conciseness: Your attempts to paraphrase or summarize are awkward or much longer than the source material.
4. Unforgettable language: You believe that the words of the author are memorable or remarkable because of their effectiveness or historical flavor.  Additionally, the author may have used a unique phrase or sentence, and you want to comment on words or phrases themselves.

(Depending on the length of the materials you quote, your quotation might need to be formatted as a block quote. Be sure to refer to your citation style guide for the guidelines your discipline follows).


In this example, the author quotes the definition of an important term, lending authority to a definition that is central to his entire argument.


Paraphrasing a source means that you use your own words to discuss a specific source’s idea. This is often useful in situations when you can state this idea more clearly, concisely or using an organization that is more suitable for integration into your paper. For paraphrasing, strive for brevity while capturing the idea of a sentence or paragraph’s point (think “smaller picture,” local ideas). Remember: when you paraphrase, you must cite the source you have paraphrased.

When would you paraphrase?

1. To change the organization of ideas for emphasis. You may have to change the organization of ideas in source material so that you can emphasize the points that are most related to your paper.  You should remember to be faithful to the meaning of the source.
2. To simplify the material. You may have to simplify complex arguments, sentences, or vocabulary.
3. To clarify the material. You may have to clarify technical passages or specialized information into language that is appropriate for your audience.

6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing

  1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

  2. Set the original aside, and write your paraphrase on a note card.

  3. Jot down a few words below your paraphrase to remind you later how you envision using this material. At the top of the note card, write a key word or phrase to indicate the subject of your paraphrase.

  4. Check your rendition with the original to make sure that your version accurately expresses all the essential information in a new form. Do not leave out central ideas if they contradict your arguments. Your paraphrase must remain true to the entire work you're paraphrasing.

  5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phraseology you have borrowed exactly from the source.

  6. Record the source (including the page) on your note card so that you can credit it easily if you decide to incorporate the material into your paper.

(6 Steps from the Purdue Owl)


In this example, the author paraphrases the entire literature review of one of his sources. He includes all the major points and subpoints from the literature, restating them in a more concise manner and in the order he intends to include them in his own analysis.


Summarizing a source means that you capture the overall point or main idea of an entire source. For example, you might summarize an entire movie’s plot or a book’s major theme. Summarizing is particularly useful for condensing “big picture” ideas into a discussion of the work in general and in its entirety. Remember: when you summarize, you must cite the source you have summarized.


In this example, the author summarizes the overall point of 5 entire articles in 3 sentences.

What's the difference between a summary and paraphrase?

Simply put, a summary is is written in your own words and includes only the key points of the writing. A summary is much shorter than the original source. You can summarize an entire article in a single sentence, for example.

A paraphrase is similar to a summary because you are rewriting the source in your own words, but the paraphrase will include both key points and subpoints or details. Because a paraphrase includes detailed information it can sometimes be as long (if not longer) than the original source.

All examples in this section taken from: Jungera, M., Montoyab, L., Overinka, F.J. (2017). Priming and warnings are not effective to prevent social engineering attacks. Computers in Human Behavior, 66, 75-87. Retrieved from

What does "integrating evidence" mean?

When you use evidence from a book or journal to support your arguments in your papers, you want to add the quote, summary or paraphrase into your writing in a way that seems smooth and natural. Properly integrating evidence is important because:

  • Readers can better understand the relevance of smoothly integrated quotations.
  • Readers can clearly see the connection between an integrated quotation and what it is trying to prove or illustrate.
  • Readers can be better convinced by evidence presented in smoothly integrated quotations.
  • Readers don’t experience being lost or frustrated by quotations that appear unrelated, inappropriate, or off topic.

How to integrate evidence

The best integration of quotations can be described as a quote sandwich. You introduce the quote. Quote. And then interpret the quote. Here are more details:

Introduce the quote: The top part of the sandwich is the introduction to the quote.  Lead into the quote with context that tells how the quote connects to your discussion.  You’ll follow this introductory phrase with a comma or a colon and then the quote.

The Quote: Follow the introductory phrase with the “meat” of the sandwich, which is the quote. After the quote, cite the source.

Interpretation of the quote: The bottom part of the sandwich, holding it all up, is your own reasoning and analysis explaining the relevance and significance of the quote and its connection to your discussion.

Quote Sandwich Example:

(Top bread/Introduction) Computer antivirus software is an important business investment that protects companies from loss due to downtime, corrupted data and liability. (Meat/Quote) In Five Reasons Why Businesses Should Not Skimp on Antivirus Software, Eric Thompson, a leading computer security expert with Microsoft Systems, states, "In 2013, American companies spent 25.8 million dollars recovering from computer hacking, most of which could have been prevented if the hackers had not discovered easy 'back doors' in the form of unprotected computers." (Bottom bread/analysis) Hackers can use trojans, rootkits and keyloggers, installed on unprotected computers, to gain access to company computers. These unauthorized pieces of software can wipe a computer's hard drive, change data or steal data, like customer identity or credit card information.

What is synthesis?

Synthesis refers to combining multiple sources and ideas. As a scholarly writer, you will use information from multiple scholarly articles combined with your own interpretation and analysis to create new ideas. That is synthesis. Watch the brief video and look at the examples below for more information.

An example of synthesis

Strategies to help you synthesize

As you read your various sources for your paper, record their citations and themes in a synthesis matrix.

What is an annotated bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.

What is the difference between an annotated bibliography and...

...the bibliography I normally put at the end of my research papers?

The bibliography you put at the end of your research papers is a list of citations, with no annotations, and it is included in your research for the purpose of giving credit to your sources of information. An annotated bibliography contains descriptions of each citation and its purpose is to make it easier for other researchers to identify useful articles. abstract of a paper?

Abstracts are the descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Like the annotations in an annotated bibliography, abstracts serve the purpose of helping researchers identify useful sources. But abstracts are often longer than the annotations in annotated bibliographies. Also, they are purely descriptive and do not offer any analysis of the work they describe. Annotations are descriptive and critical. They may describe the author's point of view, authority, or clarity and appropriateness of expression.

Why should I write and annotated bibliography?

To learn more about your research topic

One of the mistakes new researchers (students) often make is to draw a conclusion and then set off to find the research to support it. This approach is backwards. Researchers should investigate a topic thoroughly first. Through thorough investigation, researchers will identify gaps in the research, errors in assumptions or other new directions that they can pursue. Creating an annotated bibliography supports this approach to research. Writing an annotated bibliography encourages you to:

  • read extensively on your topic
  • read your sources more carefully/closely
  • read your sources more critically
  • formulate ideas on what new approaches you might take to research your topic

To help other researchers

A well-written annotated bibliography is worthy of publication on its own merits, if no current annotated bibliography on the topic exists. Researchers use annotated bibliographies to identify sources that will be useful to their current study. A good annotated bibliography can be a gold mine of time-saving information!

What should an annotated bibliography contain?

That depends on what types of annotated bibliography you have been asked to write.

Summative annotated bibliographies include:

  • Bibliographical citations according to the appropriate citation style (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE, etc.).
  • An explanation of main points and/or purpose of the work--an overview of the arguments and proofs/evidence addressed in the work and the resulting conclusion.
  • A discussion of the qualifications of the author and the methodology of the study.

Critical/evaluative annotated bibliographies include all the elements of a summative annotated bibliography, but they also offer an analysis of the work cited. The analysis might include:

  • Verification or critique of the authority or qualifications of the author.
  • Identification of the intended audience of the work
  • Examination of the work's objectivity or biases, adequate use of evidence, and methodology.

They may also:

  • show how the work may or may not be useful for a particular field of study or audience.
  • explain how researching this material assisted your own project.

Samples of annotated bibliographies

Summative sample (APA style)

Voeltz, L.M. (1980). Children's attitudes toward handicapped peers. American   
    Journal of Mental Deficiency, 84, 455-464.
      As services for severely handicapped children become increasingly available 
      within neighborhood public schools, children's attitudes toward handicapped 
      peers in integrated settings warrant attention.  Factor analysis of attitude 
      survey responses of 2,392 children revealed four factors underlying attitudes 
      toward handicapped peers: social-contact willingness, deviance   
      consequation, and two actual contact dimensions.  Upper elementary-age 
      children, girls, and children in schools with most contact with severely    
      handicapped peers expressed the most accepting attitudes.  Results of this  
      study suggest the modifiability of children's attitudes and the need to develop 
      interventions to facilitate social acceptance of individual differences in 
      integrated school settings.

Critical sample (APA style)

Schechter, H. (1971). Death and resurrection of the king: Elements of primitive
    mythology and ritual in "Roger Malvin's Burial." English Language Notes, 8, 
      Though Schechter reorganizes the material in an interesting format, basically 
      his study is a reiteration of Cassier's seminal argument in The Sacred and the 
      Profane: Modern Myth Studies. Schechter's major contribution to the debate 
      is his recognition that Reuben sacrifices Cyrus so that the curse of death-in-   
      life can be removed. Schechter's attempt to put Cassier's argument in a 
      Jungian context is intriguing but not quite successful, since he must ignore  
      important elements in the story to do so.

What is a literature review?

A literature review asks: What do we know - or not know - about this particular issue/ topic/ subject?

A literature review is the process of reading, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing scholarly materials about a specific topic. It constitutes a fundamental part of research articles and projects, typically following the introduction section of a research article or the introduction chapter of a thesis.

The purposes of a literature review are to:

  • Place each work discussed in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied.
  • Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
  • Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies.
  • Identify a need for additional research.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing research.

How should I organize my literature?

There are many types of literature reviews. Which you choose depends on the type of research you are conducting. Some examples of the types of literature reviews and how to organize them include:

Historical Review

Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context, to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments, and to identify the likely directions for future research.

The organization of a historical review is fairly straightforward. Typically, you discuss your sources in chronological order by date of publication.


Thematic Reviews

There are several types of thematic literature reviews:

Integrative Review - This type of study reviews, critiques, and synthesizes literature on a topic in order to develop new frameworks and perspectives on the topic. The body of literature would include all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems.

Argumentative Review - This type of literature review examines the research to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature.

Theoretical Review - This type of review examines the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena. The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems.

Systematic Review - The goal of a systemic review is to document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B?"

The organization of these varieties of thematic reviews may have some chronological element, but the overall organization is more based on the issues, concepts, or theories being investigated. These sections may be arranged chronologically, if such an organization lends itself to your analysis of the research.


Methodological Review

A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis]. Methods of analysis that you might analyze include quantitative and qualitative integration, sampling, interviewing, data collection, and data analysis. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study.

The methodological review would be organized base on the differences in methodology of the studies researched.


Scholarly writing is not formulaic, but it does use certain argumentative conventions that students must learn to apply. This page explains three types of classic argumentative structures and provides annotated examples of each. At the bottom of the page, you will find several sample "templates" you might model while developing your academic argument skills.

Toulmin arguments (developed by philosopher Stephen Toulmin)
  • Start with a claim – the argument you would like your audience to accept
  • State the grounds of the claim – the facts/data/statistics that make the claim important
  • Explain the connection between the grounds and the claim (the warrant)
  • Provide additional evidence for the claim
  • Qualify the claim by acknowledging its limitations or differing viewpoints
  • Rebut the differing viewpoints, providing evidence your position is best

Classic Rogerian Argument (based on psychologist Carl Rogers)
  • Start with a topic - the thematic focus of your argument
  • Acknowledge and thoroughly map out counterclaims first (Side A)
  • Acknowledge the evidence that support the counterclaim
  • Map out your claims (Side B) paralleling the structure of Side A’s arguments
  • Support your claims with evidence
  • The bridge – acknowledge both sides and state how both can be accommodated

They Say, I Say, by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein
  • Start with a topic - the thematic focus of your argument
  • Acknowledge and thoroughly map out counterclaims first (Side A)
  • Acknowledge the evidence that support the counterclaim
  • Refute Side A’s arguments
  • State your claim (Side B)
  • Support your claims with evidence
  • Conclude that “On closer examination” (Arts and literature), “On further analysis” (Social sciences), or “As the data suggests” (Sciences), your argument is strongest and explain (warrant)

A template to help you while you develop your skills

These templates are provided not as a formula and their intent is not to limit your creativity or academic freedom. By providing these templates, we hope to aid students learning to organize and articulate complex arguments.

Graff & Birkenstein's They say, I say template

The general argument made by author X in her/his work, [title of book/article], is that [argument]. More specifically, X argues that _______________. She/he writes, “ _[necessary quotation]_.” In this passage, X is suggesting that _[your explanation]_. In conclusion, X’s belief is that _______________.

In my view, X is wrong/right, because _[your argument]_. More specifically, I believe that _______________. For example, ___________. Although X might object that __________, I maintain that _______________. Therefore, I conclude that _______________.

Introducing an ongoing debate

In recent discussions of _[topic]_, a controversial issue has been whether __________. On the one hand, some argue that __________. On the other hand, however, others argue that __________. My own view is __________.