Avoiding plagiarism is an important part of academic integrity. Regarding plagiarism, Wright State's academic integrity policy states: "Know what plagiarism is and take steps to avoid it. When using the words or ideas of another, even if paraphrased in your own words, cite the source(s)."
So what is plagiarism?
A Simple Definition of Plagiarism
Presenting words or ideas taken from another source in a manner that will cause a reader to believe that those words or ideas are your own.
What's So Difficult About That?
Despite this simple definition, plagiarism can be a difficult concept to understand. One reason is the variety of style guides students may be asked to use during their college careers. Despite similarities among style guides, each style guide has individual requirements for appropriate documentation of a source. As a result, plagiarism can occur unintentionally as well as intentionally. In addition, there are cultural reasons why plagiarism can be difficult to understand.
The definition of plagiarism is tied to our American conceptions of ownership and the value we place on thoughts and ideas. However, not all cultures share our views about ownership or the proper way to cite sources. In some cultures, it is considered good form NOT to cite information from experts because it would be disrespectful to the expert and/or the reader to imply that the reader needed to be told where the information came from.
Further complicating matters are real-world examples of plagiaristic behavior that seem to be accepted practice. Sampling music and open-source software are just two examples of work that is openly shared and/or re-used.
Learn More About Plagarism and How to Avoid It
Here are some online sources you can use to learn more about plagiarism and how to avoid it:
- The St. Martin's Tutorial on Avoiding Plagiarism
- "Avoiding Plagiarism: Mastering the Art of Scholarship" (UC Davis)
- "Avoiding Plagiarism" (The OWL at Purdue)
- "Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It" (Indiana University)
Here are some other helpful sources:
- Ask your professor whenever you are uncertain whether you should cite your sources.
- Look at the ways your textbooks cite other sources. Look at the way academic journals cite sources. Very soon you will begin to recognize how they identify the words and ideas of other writers.
- Come to the University Writing Center when you begin working on a paper requiring you to use outside sources.