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What is plagiarism?

According to the WPA Statement on Plagiarism, "In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source" (Council of Writing Program Administrators 1).

In other words, plagiarism involves the deliberate use of another author's words, ideas, art, graphical representations, or any other original work as your own.

The document also makes the distinction between the unethical use of origianl sources and the misuse of original sources:

Most current discussions of plagiarism fail to distinguish between:

  1. submitting someone else’s text as one’s own or attempting to blur the line between one’s own ideas or words and those borrowed from another source, and
  2. carelessly or inadequately citing ideas and words borrowed from another source.
Such discussions conflate plagiarism with the misuse of sources. (Council of Writing Program Administrators 1-2)

How do I avoid it?

Here are some ways students can avoid a plagiarism charge:

  1. When doing electronic reserach, print out your sources. If you are using a pring copy, photocopy the pages with information you want to use. Highlight information to be quoted directly in one color, and highlight information to be paraphrased in another.
  2. Transfer any highlighted information to notecards carefully marked with source information. Never wait to mark your notecards with your source citation.
  3. Keep a careful record of every source you use.

Sources for Students

Sources for Educators