Ohio University

Avoiding Plagarism


What You Need to Know

Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense.

Plagiarism is stealing or using the writing or ideas of others as if they are one's own. The word comes from the Latin, plagium, which means "kidnapping."

But can words and ideas really be stolen? According to U.S. law, the answer is yes.

The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like inventions.

Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way - such as a book or an article or a computer file or music.

  • All of the following are considered plagiarism:
    • Turning in someone’s work as your own.
    • Copying words or ideas without giving proper credit.
    • Failing to put in quotation marks.
    • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation.
    • Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit.
    • Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit of not.
    • Self-plagiarism - turning in one paper to two classes or reusing a paper previously written by you.

Any time you borrow from an original source and don't give proper credit, you have committed plagiarism and violated U.S. copyright laws.


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