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How to Recognize and Avoid Plagiarism
Richard L. Saunders, Paul Meek Library
Univ. of Tennessee at Martin
What is Plagiarism and Why is it Important?
Plagiarism is using others ideas or words without clearly acknowledging the source. Boiled down, plagiarism means passing off someone else's work or ideas as your own, whether or not the source is identified. Copying all or part of a Website, document, or presenting an image without a correct citation, constitutes plagiarism.
For a student, turning in a test, paper, or assignment serves as publication and makes an explicit, legally binding claim of original authorship. Any assignment turned in for a grade or credit that has sections copied from another work is admissible in any court as prima facia (before the fact proof of thought before acting) evidence of plagiarism.
Professionals can lose a job over plagiarism. For a student, accidental plagiarism stemming from careless note-taking or writing can result in academic discipline. Purposeful plagiarism can get you expelled from school. Either one will affect grades and class standing, may compromise collegiate financial aid, and will become part of your permanent student record. Those consequences will affect your career options later in life. Plagiarism may look like an easy way to finish an assignment or show up well as a student, but it is a dangerously expensive educational shortcut. Presenting your original work to readers is a good business decision.
How Writers Avoid Plagiarizing
Avoiding plagiarism is strictly a writer's responsibility, but once you have presented your work to readers, you cannot influence them further about what you have written. Only readers or reviewers decide whether or not a writer has plagiarized another writer. Be careful to leave nothing in any stage of your writing that would raise a question about your work.
To avoid accidental plagiarism in your writing, you must do two things: 1) present your own ideas and expressions (especially when writing about someone else's work); 2) identify the origin whenever you use ideas or words not your own, including things like:
Being smart about how you do research and take notes will help a lot. This tutorial walks you through a series of examples and activities to help you recognize what plagiarism looks like and what strategies you can use to avoid it. Words in bold are terms defined at the end of the document.
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