|We often assume that all people who plagiarize are deliberately dishonest. In fact
plagiarism is fairly rare. Much of plagiarism is simply due to carelessness,
or to not understanding what plagiarism means. The following chart, taken
from a web site at Purdue University, represents plagiarism as a spectrum.
Since most plagiarism is unintentional, the best way to avoid plagiarism is
to develop good habits of scholarship and writing, and to be familiar with
the concepts related to plagiarism. Some of the necessary habits of
scholarship are simple common sense. When writing a paper:
- give yourself enough time to do a good job. Students who procrastinate are
more likely to plagiarize because rushing makes them sloppy. (Being out of
time is also the primary incentive for deliberate dishonesty.)
- revise your paper. Significant re-writing can eliminate plagiarized passages.
- proofread for errors. Proofreading can help you find missing citations and
quotation marks, as well as other errors.
Using other people’s ideas is a recognized and important part of being a
good scholar. It becomes plagiarism only if credit is not given
appropriately to the original source. The very same uses of other people’s
material that might be considered plagiarism if presented in one way are not
considered plagiarism if they are presented correctly.
Avoiding Plagiarism: Overview and Contradictions. 18 September 2007.
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL). 5 February 2008 <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/>.
Citations in the How to Avoid Plagiarism section use MLA style.