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BESE Research Guide: Academic Integrity

Guide for the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division

Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

More information and resources on Plagiarism and How to Avoid it, and on Turnitin, the text-matching software used by the university are available in the LibGuide on Plagiarism and How to Avoid it.

What is Plagiarism?

The theft of ideas (such as the plots of narrative or dramatic works) or of written passages or works, where these are passed off as one's own work without acknowledgement of their true origin; or a piece of writing thus stolen. Plagiarism is not always easily separable from imitation, adaptation, or pastiche , but is usually distinguished by its dishonest intention.

"plagiarism"  The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press (emphasis mine).

KAUST Policy on Plagiarism

"Submitting a written document (homework, term paper, research findings, publication, etc.) that in part or in whole is not one’s own work, whether it be a quotation, an opinion, an idea obtained through conversation or reading, a fact, or research findings, without giving proper attribution through a citation specifying the source of the information."


(Graduate Student Handbook, 2021-2022; p.77)

What is Copyright?

"the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material"

"copyright"  The Oxford Dictionary of English. 2015. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 


Why do I have to acknowledge (cite) the sources of my idea?

“If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism;
if you steal from many, it's research."

Wilson Mizner, 1876–1933

Of course American Playwright Mizner was only joking. Acknowledging the sources of your ideas and citing the works of other writers are actually important aspects of academic writing. They help you to

  • Strengthen your arguments and shows that they are based on research findings and not something that has been pulled out of thin air.
  • Document your research, providing the authority and foundation to support your auguments and conclusions. They allow your readers to verify your claims by going back to the original work you have cited.
  • Create explicit linkages between your own research and that which came before you, providing the rationale for your research and how it fits into the knowledge gap.
  • Avoid accusations of plagiarism.

It is right to give credit to authors whose ideas you use, just as you would expect others to give credit to your ideas.

Adapted from Bowman (2009) and Valenza (2004)

When to Cite?

You should provide citations when:

1) You use an idea that has already been expressed by someone else (even ideas transmitted informally).

2) You refer to the work of another person.

3) You quote the work of someone else.


You need not cite:

1) When discussing your own experiences, observations, or reactions.

2) When compiling the results of original research, experiments, etc.

3) Facts or information that are widely known, or common knowledge.