Plagiarism - What, Where, How, and Why to Avoid It

What is Plagiarism?

As defined by, plagiarism is 'an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization', and 'the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author.'

Proper quotations and citations for copied text are a must to avoid plagiarizing the content. Facts or statements of common knowledge (implying that they are known facts to a majority audience, i.e. The USA is composed of fifty states. ) do not need to be quoted or cited. Basically, if you copied something without giving credit where credit is due, you committed literary theft and then lied about it. Plagiarism is commonly found in schools and colleges where students may take the easy route out of an assignment and copy from multiple sources to compile a paper instead of doing the work themselves. Some people may even try to plagiarize content they may be submitting to a writing service in exchange for payment, trying to get easy money without the effort. Words can be stolen as easily as property, and plagiarism is, in fact, illegal.

How to Recognize Plagiarism

If you are writing content that you want to check for possible plagiarism, compare the writing to the way you would actually speak or describe something. Think to yourself, Would I actually say this? If the tone of your writing does not sound like your own, plagiarism may be the cause, whether intentional or not. There are quite a few services available on the internet to check yourself or other works for plagiarism, such as Grammarly and Copyscape. These websites will check your text against an extensive database of papers and articles for duplicate and extremely similar versions of passages. Changing words around and using synonyms in place of original words is not enough. Many writing services and even teachers grading assignments use these programs to check work upon submission.

To avoid plagiarism, be sure to record every source you use for information as a reference. Use proper citations for information and proper quotations with copied phrases or statements to protect yourself from being accused of plagiarizing the work, especially if you are submitting the work for payment to a writing service.

Why to Avoid Plagiarism

Whether you knowingly plagiarized something or not, say a paper or an article for whatever purpose, it is still illegal. Content protected by copyright laws allow the original author to take legal action against you and sue if he or she has found their work plagiarized with your name attached to it. Plagiarism is a form a theft and is also punishable as a misdemeanor of the second degree.

author: Kayci Webster

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