Avoiding Plagiarism
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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to plagiarize is to "steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as ... [your] own." Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional plagiarism includes actions such as buying a paper from a Web site, copying an entire paper from another source, turning in someone's paper as your own, and hiring someone to write a paper for you. Unintentional plagiarism is less clear. The following actions are forms of plagiarism, whether intentional or not:

Plagiarism is a very serious offense in both the academic and professional worlds. For example, in May 2006, a Harvard University student had her novel recalled and her book deal canceled after it emerged that she had plagiarized passages from two books by another author. For more information see 2006 World News Digest: People in the News; Today's Science Catching Copycats; World Almanac Encyclopedia Plagiarism Scandals in the News. Most schools punish plagiarists. The student may receive a failing grade for the paper or the class. Other schools will suspend or expel the student.

Most cases of plagiarism arise because of poor citing and referencing. Luckily, you can avoid plagiarizing if you know how to cite and reference your sources properly. As a general rule, remember that any time you use someone else's words or ideas, you should include a citation. For more information see How Do I Cite?

As well as knowing how to cite and reference your sources, use the following tips to help you avoid plagiarism.

Taking Notes


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Modern Language Association (MLA)


"Avoiding Plagiarism." Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, n.d. Web. 24 June 2018. <http://www.2facts.com/article/ircs00000001>.

For further information see Citing Sources in MLA Style.

Facts On File News Services' automatically generated MLA citations have been updated according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition.

American Psychological Association (APA)

Citation format:

The title of the article. (n.d.). Issues & Controversies. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from Issues & Controversies database.

See the American Psychological Association (APA) Style Citations for more information on citing in APA style.