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ENGL 100 Reynolds (Sp 2021)

A libguide for Reynolds class: Research strategies and Resources


"The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own" - Oxford Dictionaries online

It is possible to plagiarize your own work--this is known as self-plagiarism. Self-plagiarism happens when you copy or use your own ideas from prior work or assignments.

Consequences of plagiarism

Colleges and universities include plagiarism in their student codes of conduct, and there are consequences that range depending on severity.


They say / I say

"They Say / I Say" (Graff & Birkenstein, 2014) is an approach to academic writing that helps you be clear about which ideas are your own (I say), and which ideas are the ideas of others (They say).

Techniques Used

  • Use the author's name frequently -- even if it feels like you are repeating yourself
  • Use gender pronouns appropriately -- She/he/they: If you aren't sure about which gender the author uses, err on the safe side by using "they" which is a non-gender specific option
  • Use signal phrases -- Phrases or sentences that "signal" that you are talking about someone else's idea. These often include the author's name, but can include other information as well. [Learn more about signal phrases.]
  • Use in text citations -- This is a formal approach to signaling the source you are referring to. Details about how to do this vary depending on the style being used (APA, MLA, Chicago, and other styles are all a little different). Often, these are used along with signal phrases and a reference list or works cited list.


This template from Graff & Birkenstein's book demonstrates some of these strategies (2014).

The general argument made by author X in [her/his/their] work, _______________, is that _______________ [(Use in text citations as needed)]. More specifically, X argues that _______________. [She/he/they] writes, “ _______________” [(Quotes always require in text citations)]. In this passage, X is suggesting that _______________. In conclusion, X’s belief is that _______________.

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

In text citation & Signal phrase Tips

  • Use in text citations and signal phrases for all of your external (outside) sources
    • Why does it help you?
      • Separates “they say / I say” - Helps you avoid plagiarism
      • Gives context for your reader - Helps your reader understand you
      • Demonstrates you know the expectations of academic writing - Helps boost your credibility as an author
    • Some requirements to remember
      • Your first mention or reference to your outside source always requires an in text citation
      • Quotes always get an in text citation -- even if a good signal phrase is present
      • Paraphrasing and summarizing requires an in text citation and/or signal phrase (Make sure to paraphrase and summarize adequately...change not only the words, but the sentence structure. Choose the most important points to feature in your own restatement of the information--most of the time, you don’t need to put down everything from the original source.)
  • Match each in text citation to a reference list citation (we'll explore this later on--it will be required for future assignments)

Plagiarism Versus... from MIT

Fun Plagiarism Videos