Plagiarism: the presentation of someone else’s words or ideas as your own without proper acknowledgment of the source.

In essence, you are committing theft by failing to credit the author. When you quote people—or even when summarizing or paraphrasing information found in books, articles, or websites— you must acknowledge the original author. It is plagiarism when you:

  • Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
  • Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them
  • Fail to clearly indicate which parts of your paper are attributed to another individual.
  • Cut and paste passages from websites, books, or articles and inserting them into your paper without citing them.
  • Paraphrase a person’s words without citing them.

On top of being unethical and dishonest, plagiarism is also punishable by law and by Case Western Reserve University. Further information about CWRU’s Academic Integrity policy can be found here.

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Five Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Use your own ideas. It’s your paper, so your ideas should be the focus!
  • Use the ideas of others sparingly to support or reinforce your own argument, and when you do, always credit original authors for their information and ideas.
  • Take clear and accurate notes where you find specific ideas and include the complete citation information for each item.
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person’s words.
  • Write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. It will give clarity to your argument without being too dependent upon your sources.


Additional resources on plagiarism

If you need to have more specific examples of plagiarism and how to effectively paraphrase, the following websites will supply you with some helpful information:

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