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Guidance for students on what plagiarism is, why it's important to understand, and how to avoid it.

What is plagiarism?

lit lightbulb

Plagiarism is "an act of copying the ideas or words of another person without giving credit to that person" ("Plagiarism"). This can mean:

  • quoting someone else's words (written or spoken/recorded) without giving them credit
  • paraphrasing or summarizing someone else's work without giving them credit
  • using someone else's written ideas, theories, or work without giving them credit

Essentially, plagiarism is taking the work of someone else, and making it seem as though it is your own original idea, thought, words, or work.

You can avoid plagiarism by giving credit to the original creator, just like I did here! Above, I quoted the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition of plagiarism - I used their exact words. So, to give them credit, I included a citation and a reference below. By including this information, I let you know that these were not my words, and also told you where I had gotten them.

Works Cited

"Plagiarism." Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

Some "real life" examples

Here are a few examples of plagiarism that made the news. Follow the links to read more about each of these cases.

  • Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, former Minister of Defense of Germany, resigned when plagiarism was discovered in his doctoral dissertation.
  • Ohio University had a plagiarism scandal in 2006 that resulted in a Department Chair's resignation.
  • George Harrison of the Beatles was accused of plagiarism in his solo album, "All Things Must Pass."
  • Jayson Blair, former writer for the New York Times, was accused of plagiarism in his articles.
  • Kaavya Visvanathan lost a book contract with her publisher due to plagiarism in her novels.

Image credit

All images used in this Guide are from Pixabay, and may be used without attribution per the Pixabay license.