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Plagiarism: Don't let it happen to you!

Standard Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when someone deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging the source.

Plagiarism is cheating. Examples include;

  • Purchasing a paper online and submitting it as your own.
  • Copying your roommate’s paper (or parts of it) and submitting it as your own.
  • Paraphrasing ideas, data or writing from someone else’s work without properly acknowledging the original source.

There is nothing simple about plagiarism;

  • Ideas are often a mixture of one’s own ideas, those we read, and those we discuss with friends, making it hard, or even impossible, to sort out who owns what.
  • Writers who are learning a new field often try out ideas and phrases from other writers in order to master the field. This process allows them to learn, and is a far cry from stealing.
  • Expectations for citing sources vary among contexts, cultures, and readers, making it very difficult to understand all of the rules.

Plagiarism can occur in many forms besides writing: art, music, computer code, mathematics, speeches, and scientific work can also be plagiarized. 


Council of Writing Program Administrators. (2019, December 30). Defining and avoiding plagiarism: The WPA statement on best practices.

Mott-Smith, Jennifer A. (2020, August 7). In D. Loewe & C. Ball (Eds.), Bad ideas about writing (p. 5.12). LibreTexts.

Northwestern University. (n.d.). How to avoid plagiarism.

NYU Libraries. (2022, December 16). Plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Turnitin, LLC. (2017, May 18). What is plagiarism?