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Obviously it’s against the rules to buy essays or copy chunks from your friend’s homework, and it’s also plagiarism to borrow passages from books or articles or Web sites without identifying them.
It’s also a courtesy to your readers because it helps them consult the material you’ve found. So mentioning what others have said doesn’t lessen the credit you get for your own thinking—in fact, it adds to your credibility.
That’s not to say that questions about ownership of ideas are simple.
You’ve heard your instructor rant, rave, and threaten about avoiding plagiarism since the beginning of the school year, but now that the first major paper is almost due, you are starting to panic. Plagiarism is not the easy way out of writing an essay.
There are plenty of free plagiarism checkers online now, so it is not difficult for a teacher or professor to bust you.
Not to expose yourself to such unjustified risk, remember rule 1 – avoid any form of plagiarism while writing an essay.
Sometimes it is especially difficult because of the specific nature of essay writing itself.
Plagiarism is when you use another person’s words or ideas and try to pass them off as your own. To learn more about what plagiarism is, and why it’s wrong, see our short video on Plagiarism.
Using outside evidence is important in academic writing, but those sources must be used appropriately.
Though you might not think that the information you included without attribution in your paper about the history of silkworms really constitutes stealing, think again.
Your instructors want you to use your own work so you can get a grade that is truly representative of the work you did for the class.