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Plagiarism: What is Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism, n.

The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft (Oxford English Dictionary).

Marist College's Definition of Plagiarism:

"Marist College adopts the position of Modern Language Association Handbook, New York, 1977, par. 6 “Plagiarism may take the form of repeating another’s sentences as your own, adopting a particularly apt phrase as your own, paraphrasing someone else’s line of thinking in the development of a thesis as though it were your own.  In short, to plagiarize is to give the impression that you have written or thought something that you have borrowed from another."

Plagiarism & Citation

What is the purpose of citations?

Citations are integral to academic honesty.  Before you get into the nitty gritty of how to write citations properly, it is important to understand why we cite.

  1. To give credit where credit is due - The original authors of your sources put time and thought into the sources that you are citing. They deserve credit. An author's words and ideas are their intellectual property, which you may only use with attribution.
  2. To lend your paper credibility - As a student, you are most likely not an expert on your topic.  It is expected that you will seek expertise from outside sources.  It is an asset to your paper to have (and to cite) credible sources.
  3. To allow readers to follow up on your research - Citing your sources, especially in-text citations, allows your readers to follow up on your research, read more if they are interested, and decide on their own if they agree with your conclusions.
  4. To avoid serious consequences - Failing to cite sources is considered plagiarism, which carries heavy consequences at Marist College and in the world at large.

Avoiding Plagiarism

If you have questions, ask them!

When in doubt, don't be afraid to ask for help.  As a student at Marist College, you have help available to you at the James A. Cannavino Library and at the Writing Center.  Citations can be difficult and the consequences of even accidentally plagiarizing can be serious.  Of course, you can ask your professor, too! 

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