There are many ways to define plagiarism. To put it simply, plagiarism is illegal, unethical and against all education policy. The consequences are severe for committing plagiarism: in school you can be expelled, at work you can lose your job, you will lose credibility, or may face jail time (maybe a little extreme, but trying to make a point).  JUST DON’T DO IT!

The best way I can explain this topic is by example.


The definition of plagiarize is to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words.


According to Merriam-Webster, plagiarize is to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own (Plagiarize, 2013).


Plagiarize. (2013). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from

It is easy to see the difference in the two examples, the correct example provides information as to whose words were used and where that information can be found.

When writing a paper, proposal, report or any material where supporting information is used, always indicate when using words other than your own.  There are three was to avoid plagiarism: using direct quotes, paraphrasing and summarizing.  However, it is important to give credit where credit is needed and this can be done with an in-text citation.

My suggestions for avoiding plagiarism

  • Choice what information is needed to support your claim
  • Create a references page or a works cited page
  • Use a signal phrase to indicate when words are not your own
  • Indicate the year and page or paragraph number after using others words
  • Have your work review by another person
  • Use a website that looks for plagiarism, most schools require papers to be run through this type of program.
  • If you cut and paste words from a document or website it must be cited*.

*This is probably the most important advice I can give.


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