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The Truth About Plagiarism

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Plagiarism is a serious offense and it’s important to follow the proper steps in citing work from other sources. Never try to pass off someone else’s work as your own – that’s plagiarism!

If you get caught plagiarizing someone else’s work in your own paper or essay, the punishment can be severe. In high school, you will probably receive an F on that assignment, and you may even fail the class. Schools and universities take plagiarism very seriously and it can ruin your academic reputation. Some universities even have a zero tolerance policy, and if you are caught plagiarizing, you could even be expelled.

It’s important you realize that plagiarism is more than just copying large sections of text into your own paper and claiming it as your own. There are many more subtle ways to plagiarize work, and you may not even realize you’re doing it.

When writing a paper, make sure you avoid these common mistakes that could get you into some major trouble:

  • Copying text from a paper and changing key words and phrases. If the content is still essentially the same and you don’t cite your source, it’s plagiarism.
  • Paraphrasing original ideas from one or more source. If you’re still trying to pass off an original idea as your own, it’s plagiarism.
  • Using your own work from a previous paper. Believe it or not, you can plagiarize yourself. If you write a paper or article and then copy passages for your next one, it’s plagiarism.
  • Citing to inaccurate or non-existent sources. It’s important to double check all your sources. If you cite a work incorrectly and your readers have no way to review the source, it’s plagiarism.
  • Citing everything correctly, but including no original work in your paper. You can’t write a paper if you don’t actually write something. If you compose your paper entirely of work from other sources – even if cited properly – it’s still plagiarism.

If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve cited something correctly, make sure to discuss it with your teacher. It’s better to check ahead of time so your paper can be plagiarism-free when you turn it in. And remember that if you find yourself using the thesaurus to change the words of someone else’s work, you’re going down a dangerous path. It’s fine to use other people’s work (when properly cited) as a jumping off point, but make sure to bring your own original ideas and writing to the table as well. That is the point of writing, after all.

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