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Welcome to the Library: What is Plagiarism?

Definition of plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

"In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source."

-- Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices


In the definition above, notice the word “deliberately.” The COD Library has adopted this definition of plagiarism because it makes the distinction between a student’s conscious decision to be academically dishonest and between a student’s novice writing mistakes.

Under this definition, “submitting someone else’s text as one’s own or attempting to blur the line between one’s own ideas or words and those borrowed from another source” is a form of cheating or academic dishonesty.

“Carelessly or inadequately citing ideas and word borrowed from another source,” on the other hand, is part of the process of learning how to write as a college student.

Why do students make writing mistakes?

Why do students make writing mistakes?

College, or academic, writing has its own set of rules that are different from other kinds of writing. As with any rules, we learn them by making mistakes. If you have ever learned to drive a car or play a new game, you are familiar with the feeling of not knowing all the rules. 

Mistakes, of course, are unintentional - they a natural part of learning. Whether you were taught academic writing in high school or never learned it at all, there are many opportunities for pitfalls and just as many opportunities to learn something new.

How well do you know the rules of college writing?

Plagiarism Tutorial

It is important that you understand why you cite your work and how.  For more information about plagiarism, academic integrity, and academic writing visit the COD Library's Plagiarism & Writing with Sources tutorial.

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  • Last Updated: Sep 22, 2021 9:50 AM
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