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What is Plagiarism?

by Meghan Kowalski on 2022-09-26T08:00:00-04:00 | Comments

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of the words or ideas of others. Plagiarism also occurs when you misrepresent the work of other people as your own.​ Essentially, plagiarism is when you use someone else's ideas, information, writing, or thinking without providing the proper citation or attribution.


The Perils of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is definitely something you want to avoid. It can have ramifications in you academic, professional, and personal lives.

In academics, plagiarism is not only poor practice but also a form of cheating. Plagiarism goes against the University's honor code. The Student Handbook lists plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. Students who commit plagiarism not only fail assignments but may be expelled from the University.

In the professional world, plagiarism also has severe consequences. Plagiarism is a highly unethical practice. You may be fired and, depending on the form of plagiarism committed, could be arrested for illegal conduct. Additionally, committing plagiarism in certain career fields can make it difficult or impossible to find work again.

On a personal level, committing plagiarism makes you untrustworthy and can negatively impact your reputation.


Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism can happen two ways: deliberately or unintentionally.

Deliberate plagiarism includes:

  • Using someone else's work - in whole or part - and presenting it as your own
  • Fabrication - when you make up information entirely.
  • Misrepresentation - when you use someone else's work but make a few changes to make it seem different or that it is your own work
  • Falsification - when you take existing information but deliberately change it to make new information to fit your needs

Most plagiarism, however, is unintentional. Unintentional plagiarism happens when:

  • You inappropriately paraphrase or summarize someone's work
  • Forget to include a citation or attribution
  • Provide an incomplete or incorrect citation or attribution
  • Assume something is common knowledge when it is not and not providing a citation or attribution

Another way plagiarism happens - both deliberately or unintentionally - is self-plagiarism. Self-plagiarism occurs when:

  • You submit the same work more than once (for example, submitting the same essay to two different classes)
  • Using some material you created in another creation without providing a citation or attribution


Preventing Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a scary prospect but it can be avoided. Try these methods to help ensure that you always provide proper citations or attributions.

  • Track everything you read, visit, or want to use in your work
  • Use a citation manager (like Zotero) to track the material you find
  • Take notes about or highlight material you read so you know what you need to cite it later
  • Use quotation marks (" ") whenever you directly quote material from others
  • Introduce sources when you use them in your writing
  • Cite as your write
  • Cite everything (whether the use of the material is direct or indirect you must provide a citation)
  • Read and review your work to catch any missing attributions or citations
  • Review your works cited page, bibliography, and reference list to ensure that all citations are correct and complete
  • Double-check everything one last time before submitting your work
How to Avoid Plagiarism

There are a lot of things you should cite to avoid plagiarism. This includes:​​

  • Direct quotations from sources.​
  • Facts, data, and information based on other people’s research. ​
  • Paraphrases of another’s work. ​
  • Ideas, opinions, and interpretations that are not your own or that you got from another source. ​
  • Charts, graphs, pictures, images, and raw data that you did not put together yourself. ​
  • Comments from lectures, conversations, and interviews. ​

​Essentially, if you did not write it, think it, or do it you should provide a citation to help you avoid plagiarism.​

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