Plagiarism is taking the ideas or words of others and passing them off as your own. Plagiarism is a type of intellectual theft.
Plagiarism can take many forms, from deliberate cheating to accidentally copying from a source without acknowledgement. Plagiarism can have serious consequences, so it is important that students be aware of what it is, and how to avoid it.
Although plagiarism has existed for centuries, the debate about it has been renewed in recent years, especially in regard to the emergence of various forms of information technology.
As part of an academic community, and thereby benefiting from your membership, you are expected to abide by its ethical practices. These ethical practices include the need to consciously acknowledge those ideas, words and concepts that we borrow from other people.
All scholarship relies upon using the work of others; in fact you can’t write academically without borrowing words and/or ideas from other people. It is important that you acknowledge your debt to the wider academic community, both historical and contemporary.
It is partly this tradition of acknowledgement of sources, in the form of ‘in-text’ citation or foot or end-notes, that separates academic writing from other forms of knowledge: it is part of the strength of academic research.
Plagiarism is unethical for three reasons.
No doubt some students do cheat. They deliberately take the results of other people’s hard work, use it to gain credit for themselves, and learn little or nothing in the process. But most cases of plagiarism are accidental, and could be avoided if students become more conscious of their own writing and research practices.