Writing Resources

Writing Guides, Handbooks and Grammar Help

  • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL): This is one of the best, most accessible sites. It includes self-help for students, handouts for teachers, advice on different kinds of writing tasks, excellent links, and English as a second language (ESL) and writing across the curriculum (WAC) sources.
  • Tips and Tools: This site includes general writing strategies as well as information about components of writing projects and discipline-specific writing tips (University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill).
  • Paradigm Online Writing Assistant: This is a well-maintained resource for students that describes the writing process and provides ample advice.
  • NIU Thesis and Dissertation Office: This site includes deadlines, formatting guidelines, templates and example pages.

  • Dave's ESL Cafe: This site includes online chat, entertaining activities, tips for ESL writers and many other links.
  • Ann Raimes ESL Tip Sheets: This is an excellent source for understanding the features of ESL students' different native languages and seeing what kinds of errors the students will need to anticipate (sponsored by Houghton Mifflin).

Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism

The University Writing Center seeks to promote and foster academic integrity alongside the NIU community. Plagiarism occurs when someone takes material from a source and uses that material in their own work without proper citation. This compromises academic integrity.

Generally speaking, most people do not intend to plagiarize anything. Most occurrences of plagiarism happen when well-meaning people simply don't know the rules of a particular citation style. However, whether unintentional or malicious, plagiarism is a serious matter that could have an effect on your academic standing. Protect yourself by brushing up on citation styles, and contact the University Writing Center if you have any questions or concerns.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, plagiarism isn't always a malicious act committed by someone out to steal someone else's words. In most cases, plagiarism is the result of not knowing when citation should occur, rather than devious intentions.

To avoid plagiarism, you must understand what plagiarism is. In basic terms, plagiarism is using someone else's ideas in your work without proper citation.

Plagiarism can occur whether you use exact words from source material or a reworded paraphrase. If you use someone else’s idea in your writing, the lack of proper citation will result in plagiarism - no matter in what form the content shows up in your work.

Because most people don't intend to plagiarize, avoiding the act is remarkably easy:

  • If an idea belongs to you, there is no need to cite.
  • If an idea does not belong to you, you must cite. You can use either a direct quote or a paraphrase to incorporate the information, but a citation must follow both.

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