Plagiarism, loosely defined, is the act of passing off someone else’s work as your own. Work can include written material, oral speeches, visual arts work, or music. For example, a rapper who samples a piece of music without getting permission from the original musician or owner of the song’s copyright, is committing plagiarism. A painting that is a direct copy of someone else’s work without permission is also plagiarism when the work is presented as one’s own.
In general, we use plagiarism to refer to written or spoken materials. Plagiarism can mean failure to cite someone else’s work in written form. It can also mean failure to correctly cite someone else’s work. So if one is writing a paper and uses a quote from a book, failing to cite the appropriate publication date and the page number of the quote is plagiarism.
The second example of plagiarism here is a frequent occurrence in high school and college papers and might typically arise from one or two scenarios. A person has written down quotes he or she intends to use, but has failed to write the page number for the quote, or failed to write down the publication details of the book. In an effort to make the quote appear proper in citation, the person writes down any number to represent the page number. Conversely, the person fudges on publication date of a book.
These are both considered plagiarism because they fail to give the author of the quote appropriate credit. If there is no time to find this information, it is better to submit a paper late, or write (citation needed) after a quote in order to avoid being accused of plagiarism.
Taking someone else’s idea and presenting it as one’s own, without credit, is also plagiarism. So if one explains a concept one has read, it is important to cite the source even if one does not use a direct quote. A paragraph explaining an idea might end with the author’s name cited to avoid the appearance one is stealing an idea.
Paraphrasing someone else’s work too closely is another form of plagiarism. In general it is better to use a quote if one wants the language of the work you are citing to stand out. Otherwise, be certain to make sure sentences and construction are very different than the material one is paraphrasing or summarizing and always cite the source.
More direct plagiarism occurs when a person steals text from someone else and does not cite the source. As well, having someone else write your work and passing it off as your own is plagiarism. Buying essays or reports online is also plagiarism. Even if you pay for someone else’s work, it is still not your own. In a simple example, if your mother or a friend writes your essay, this is plagiarism too.
Plagiarism and cheating get easily bound up together. Stealing a glance at another person’s paper during a test is plagiarizing his or her work. Even with permission, the false representation of work as one’s own is definitely not allowable.
Often, teachers now submit essays through Internet sites that allow them to be checked for plagiarism. Some teachers instead simply look up citations to be certain they are correct. Intentional plagiarism in the school setting may at the least result in an F grade. At the worst, plagiarized work can cause expulsion from school.