Plagiarism: everything you should already know

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Here are some things worth knowing about plagiarism:

The term ‘plagiarism’ refers to representing something you’ve written as original when it is in fact not.

Things that require citation include quotes, ideas, summaries, illustrations, and photographs.

When copying an exact phrase, sentence, or block of text from a source it’s not enough to cite it (and by that I mean including a link to your source or a mention of the author’s name in parentheses.) You must enclose the copied text in quotes to avoid plagiarizing the work.

It is possible to plagiarize yourself. Since plagiarism refers to misrepresenting something as wholly original, even using your own previous writing in a new paper will get you in trouble.

Plagiarism is illegal. Youngstown State University’s ‘Plagiarism FAQ‘ does a great job of discussing how different organizations approach the legalities of plagiarism, but the bottom line is that you could face both fines and jail time for plagiarism.

This is a big problem in education due to the ease with which students can copy material from electronic sources into their work, and the matter is not helped by the fact that many students are simply unclear on what this academic integrity stuff is all about. If you are a student who faces the problem of figuring out how to manage external sources for your papers the least you need to know is that it is incredibly easy to get caught. Services such as TurnItIn provide faculty with an automated means for precisely examining the authenticity of papers submitted for a class.

Here is a bit of information about the state of plagiarism today according to TurnItIn:

Plagiarism in Education

If you’re in one of my classes, don’t do it.  I hate to fail you for any reason at all, but the seriousness of plagiarism means each school with which I work has strict policies on handling it.  Failing an assignment is the least of the consequences you will face.

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