What is plagiarism?


The Oxford English dictionary defines plagiarism as the "action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." Regardless of whether the plagiarism was intentional, it is unethical and considered scholastic dishonesty by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Student Conduct Code

Examples of plagiarism

  • Paraphrasing, or restating another writer's ideas in your own words, without documentation.
  • Copying or paraphrasing ideas from literary criticism or the commentary in study aids (such as Cliff's Notes) without acknowledgement.
  • Including facts, figures, graphs, charts, or other information (that are not considered common knowledge) without giving proper credit to the source of the information.
  • Using another person's work or ideas as your own in the creative or practical arts in pieces such as essays, short stories, poems, musical compositions, art work, projects, or computer software.
  • Failing to give a bibliography or references cited for a project that requires research.
  • Directly quoting from a work without quotation marks or documentation. 

How do you cite sources?

There are many different formats that you may be asked to use for a project or class, including APA, MLA, Harvard, CBE, or that of a particular journal.  If you are unsure of what format to use, ask your instructor. Documentation consists of two parts: within the text and at the end of your paper. In your text, use parentheses to show your reader where you have used each piece of information from your sources.

How can you avoid plagiarism?

  • Know what plagiarism is
  • Don't procrastinate. Begin your work early.
  • Cite everything that is not your work
  • Use your own words and ideas
  • When in doubt, cite the source
  • Use good judgment with “common knowledge”
  • Avoid using others’ work with only minor or cosmetic changes 

What are the consequences of plagiarism?

The sanctions for plagiarism are also listed in the Student Code of Conduct and range from academic sanction (such as failure of the assignment or the course) to expulsion, withholding of a degree, or revocation of a degree or admission.