What It Is and Why You Should Care
You might remember, way back in elementary school, your teacher told you not to copy things out of books (especially encyclopedias) and turn in that work as your own.
Well, you're a college student now, and your professors realize there are a million more creative ways to plagiarize these days--and all of them are just as bad as verbatim scribblings from the Encyclopedia Britannica.
What is plagiarism, exactly? According to the Dowling College Student Handbook, "plagiarism is the act of representing someone else's ideas, products, or words as one's own" (p. 21). Basically, it's stealing.
Most plagiarism occurs when students don't pay close attention to what they're doing during the research and writing process. Here are the most common causes of inadvertent plagiarism:
- Sloppy note-taking.
- Cutting and pasting from websites.
- Cutting and pasting from electronic journal articles.
- Forgetting to put quotes around someone else's words.
- Forgetting to add a citation to a paraphrase.
- Omitting a citation for a table, graph, or photograph used in a paper or presentation.
To avoid the pitfalls of inadvertent plagiarism, it helps to know how to take good notes. These note-taking tips from Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) can revolutionize the way you do research and keep you out of the plagiarism danger zone.
However, you may not realize that there are some other forms of plagiarism to avoid, too, such as:
- Purchasing a paper from an online vendor and turning it in.
- Borrowing a paper from a friend (who's already taken the class) and turning it in.
- Turning in a paper you wrote from another class without telling the professor.