Plagiarism is "the action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (Source: Oxford English Dictionary).
There are two main types of plagiarism:
Avoiding plagiarism is not difficult. Just follow these strategies:
Paraphrase (and credit your sources)
Paraphrasing means you are borrowing what someone else wrote, and re-telling it in your own words and sentence structures, while maintaining the spirit of the passage. It also demonstrates you understand the passage you are incorporating into your essay. If you change a few words, or use synonyms, you are not paraphrasing; you are plagiarizing. See this link to learn more about paraphrasing and to see examples. Please remember that when you paraphrase, you still have to credit your sources!
Cite your sources in a Works Cited or References page
Every source you mention in your essay must be listed on your Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page. Please refer to the library's citation playbooks to see how to cite your sources, or ask a librarian.
Cite your sources in the body of your essay
Besides putting your sources in your Works Cited/Reference list, you must also credit them within the body of your essay or paper, either within sentences or in parentheses at the end of sentences. Please see the library's citation playbooks to see how to do parenthetical or in-text citations, or see a librarian.
If you used sources you are not citing, place them in a Works Consulted page
A Works Consulted page lets your reader/instructor know you have consulted some sources that you are not mentioning in the body of your paper. For example, encyclopedias, handbooks, or textbooks are not normally used as citable sources, but they are useful as background information for topics. If you have used those and would like people to know you have, you can place them on the Works Consulted list. If you in any way use these sources in your essay, then they become works cited and must be placed on the corresponding list.
Do not reuse previous work
Reusing previous work does not demonstrate you have mastered the current course's material. You may use portions of previous work the same way you use other sources, and you must cite yourself like you would with any other source. But taking an old work (modified or unmodified) and passing it off as an original, new work is a violation of academic integrity that is not tolerated in academia.
If an instructor gives you permission to submit an essay from another course, make sure you obtain this permission in writing.
Watch this video to learn how to avoid plagiarism.