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What Is Plagiarism? Learn Here as if you are looking for Plagiarism Definition
Warning! Writing a dissertation that includes plagiarism can be hazardous to your
career, your degree, and your reputation. Severe penalties can be levied against those
who ignore the copyright law or take it lightly. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are
serious matters, one of the worst academic sins.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the theft of ideas. The definition of plagiarism stated by Booth, Colomb,
and Williams (1995) is the most comprehensive and helpful one that I found in the
You plagiarize when, intentionally or not, you use someone else’s words or
ideas but fail to credit that person. You plagiarize even when you do credit the
author but use his [or her] exact words without so indicating with quotation
marks or block indentation. You also plagiarize when you use words so close
to those in your source, that if you placed your work next to the source, you
would see that you could not have written what you did without the source at
your elbow. (p. 167)
So basically, there are three ways in which you can be guilty of plagiarizing:
Using others’ words or ideas without giving them proper credit
Using others’ exact words without quotation marks or indentation
Closely paraphrasing others’ words (even if citing the source)
The third way is the most challenging for doctoral students writing their dissertations.
The line between paraphrasing and plagiarizing is not always clear or straightforward,
and it can cause inadvertent plagiarizing of another’s work.
As a researcher, you must relate findings from the literature and from other researchers,
requiring that you paraphrase or quote your sources. Paraphrasing is simply restating
in your own words what others reported and then citing the source. How closely you
parallel their words, even when correctly citing the source, determines the degree to
which you may be plagiarizing.
Paraphrasing does not mean changing a word or two in another’s sentence, changing
the sentence structure, or changing some words to synonyms. If you rearrange
sentences in these ways, you are writing too closely to the original—which is
plagiarism, not paraphrasing. Booth et al. (1995) offered a simple test to ascertain
whether or not you are inadvertently plagiarizing.