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Copyright, Plagiarism and Intellectual Property: Plagiarism

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is one form of academic dishonesty. It is claiming, or appearing to claim, another's work as your own by not acknowledging it. Definition of plagiarism from the Council of Writing Program Administrators: "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."

Avoiding Plagiarism

To avoid plagiarism, give credit whenever you...

  • use another person's idea, opinion, or theory;
  • use any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge;
  • quote another person's actual spoken or written words; or
  • paraphrase another person's spoken or written words.


  • Take responsibility for understanding how your professor, department, school or university defines plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty.
  • Learn how to cite for your discipline or class. Each discipline and class may use different standards and citation styles.
  • When writing, assemble your sources, identify ones that are most helpful, and take good notes. In your notes, distinguish between quotes, your paraphrased version of the author's ideas, and your own response to what the author says.
  • If you are unsure of whether or not to cite, you might want to err on the side of citing.

Incorporating Other's Work Into Your Writing Correctly

  • Quoting: Must be identical to the original. Quotes must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
  • Paraphrasing: Involves putting a passage from a source into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it.
  • Summarizing: Involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). A summary must be attributed to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Preventing Plagiarism

Instructors can...

  • Discuss the importance of academic honesty.
  • Teach students how to quote, paragraphs, and summarize properly and effectively.
  • Work to establish a system that clearly defines plagiarism and the consequences of plagiarism, consistently punishes plagiarists, and includes students in the judicial process.
  • Demonstrate some of the non-academic consequences of plagiarism do a web search on "reporter & plagiarism"
  • Design assignments to monitor activities and follow a step-by-step process.

Plagiarism Resources

Did I Plagiarize?