Plagiarism means misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own. Most of the time in academic contexts, plagiarism occurs because students are not aware of how to give credit to other people’s work in their own writing.
Basically, it comes down to this. If you use someone else’s ideas, their actual words, or any data or images they produce, you must give that person credit for their work. You must say where this information has come from by documenting it.
If you misrepresent others’ work as your own, you could face profound consequences, depending on your situation. Each institution has its own policy of academic integrity. Take the time to review this policy and to understand how to avoid plagiarism.
Let’s reflect on when we need to give credit for other people’s work.
Avoid plagiarism with good note-taking
Avoiding plagiarism starts with understanding what counts as plagiarism. Then, you can reduce the risks of accidental plagiarism by learning to take good notes when working on a research project.
Working with research material can be overwhelming. We can easily lose track of where all our information has come from. But this tracking of the sources for your research material is an essential part of effective note-taking.
When taking notes, first make sure you always link them to their source. When you go back later to use you notes to write the essay, you need to know what source they came from. Otherwise, you might think they are your ideas!
The second task for keeping track of sources is to note whether you have written down an exact quotation or noted the author’s ideas in your own words. This matters. If you later copy the author’s own words from your notes into your essay without quotation marks, you could be accused of plagiarism.
Let’s practice by improving a set of notes on an article.
On this page, a student has taken a set of notes from Eli Pariser’s 2011 article “The Troubling Future of Internet Search.” But there are problems with these notes.