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What is Plagiarism?

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to “plagiarize” means:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
  • to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Plagiarism is an act of fraud.  It involves both stealing someone else’s work and being untruthful about it afterward by claiming it as one’s own.


Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided by citing sources.  By acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent plagiarism.  The following are considered plagiarism: (from Plagiarism.org)

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

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