What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when you use another person’s verbal or written words or text in your own work without appropriately documenting the source of the borrowed words or text. The borrowed text could come from a variety of places, such as a book, a newspaper, a magazine, a website, or even another student’s paper.

Plagiarism Defined:

The College defines plagiarism as “the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research, or writing as your own. Examples include:

  • Copying another person’s actual words without both the use of quotations and documentation.
  • Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without documentation.
  • Using information that is not considered common knowledge without acknowledging the source.
  • Using a paper writing “service” or having a friend write the paper for you.

Note: The guidelines that define plagiarism also apply to information secured on web sites. Internet references must specify precisely where the information was obtained and where it can be found.”

No matter where the text comes from, it must be documented accurately. Accurate documentation means that you must follow the MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association) rules for documentation.

What are the consequences of plagiarism at WCC?
Sanctions that can be assigned by a faculty member range from giving a reduced grade on the particular work in question to failing the student for the entire course. In addition, some academic departments and programs have their own policies for dealing with academic dishonesty.


How can I avoid Plagiarism?

Avoiding Plagiarism: Practical Strategies
Duke University Libraries, Emily Werrell

Plagiarism can often unintentionally result from careless research and note-taking.  This site provides advice on how to plan and organize your research project so that you can avoid careless errors in documentation.

How not to Plagiarize
University of Toronto, Dr. Margaret Procter

Here’s an easy to read FAQ that addresses many of the questions students have about the ways that plagiarism can actually occur.

Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It
Indiana University

Examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrasing help clarify how to use information from another text without getting into trouble.

Avoiding Plagiarism
Maricopa Community College

This site outlines and provides examples of common ways plagiarism can happen.  Included is a self-test on using other texts without plagiarizing.

Avoiding Plagiarism: Mastering the Art of Scholarship
University of Southern California

These guidelines provide tips and clarify often confusing issues, like the concept of “common knowledge” – includes examples.

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Here’s a brief explanation of the difference between quoting and paraphrasing:

  • When you QUOTE, you are borrowing from another text by copying information from that text word for word (verbatim) and placing this copied information within your own text.
  • When you PARAPHRASE, you copy an idea from another text, but you put that idea into your own words.

In every case, both quoted and paraphrased material must be accurately documented
according to MLA or APA protocols.


Useful Links

Need more information?

Try the following resources:

Purdue OWL
Learn to distinguish the difference between the quote and the paraphrase.  The site includes a sample essay and a link to a documentation guidelines page.
University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center

Practice Quoting and Paraphrasing at the City University of New York WriteSite online writing lab.  After you do the quote workshop, go to the paraphrase workshop.