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Proper Citation and Avoiding Plagiarism
Avoiding plagiarism first requires understanding what it is and then being careful in your research and writing process so you do not misappropriate someone else's words or ideas. Two key ideas to remember:
- Err on the side of citing if you are unsure whether a citation is necessary.
- Thorough, consistent note-taking practices when researching can save you from inadvertent plagiarism.
Legal scholarly writing requires complete citation of all non-original phrases and ideas. Direct quotations obviously require proper attribution, but so too do paraphrases, factual information, and other references to ideas that originated with someone other than you, the student author. For a thorough discussion of this matter, see chapter 6 of Scholarly Writing for Law Students:
Law School Plagiarism v. Proper Attribution
This Legal Writing Institute (LWI) brochure notes that proper attribution is particularly important in legal writing, where precedent is cited to make an argument stronger and more credible.
Additional useful resources to help you avoid inadvertent plagiarism include:
Drake University Law Library • 2604 Forest Ave. • Des Moines, Iowa 50311-3014