Plagiarism is the unauthorized use of someone else’s thoughts or wording. This may come about by incorrect documentation, failing to cite your sources altogether, or simply relying far too heavily on external resources. Plagiarizing does not give due credit to whoever first came up with the language and/or idea. Plagiarizing undermines your academic integrity and betrays your responsibilities to your audience. Whether intentional or inadvertent, the result is that some or all of another author’s ideas are represented as your own. It’s like lip-synching to someone else’s voice and accepting the applause and rewards for yourself.
Plagiarism also includes informal published material such as the re-use of the same paper for more than one course, or “buying” a paper from another student. If it feels like cheating or an easy way out, stop and think of the serious repercussions you could incur. Because it is intellectual theft, plagiarism is considered by all post-secondary institutions as an academic crime, with punishment ranging anywhere from a failure on that particular paper to dismissal from the course or expulsion from university.
Avoid plagiarism by following and understanding standard documentation formats, learning how to note-take effectively, and properly incorporating sources within your own insights, so that it is clear which sources you consulted to support and supplement your own discussion.
The heart of avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where it is due.
When do I need to document?
Making Sure You are Safe – During the writing process:
Making Sure You are Safe – In the finished paper
Check against your notes (or photocopies of sources) to make sure that anything you’ve used is acknowledged using some combination of: in-text citation, footnotes, bibliography, and/or quotation marks.