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Plagiarism: What You Should Know 
 
by Devrie Paradowski July 05, 2005

Restating an idea as your own idea in your own words

Be careful not to confuse this example of plagiarism with paraphrasing ideas in order to support your own. An example of plagiarizing an idea would be to read a persuasive essay that argues an interesting perspective and then to rewrite that article. Take the following passage as an example:

Original

Many people believe that the moral attitude of the United States has been declining since the enlightenment era. This idea is not true. Though the proliferation of media sources seems to portray a culture of increasingly more sex and violence, it is also evident that because of the proliferation of media, these attributes of our society are being exposed much more than they were in the past. Furthermore, our country has been evolving in a way that upholds the civil liberties of our nation allowing more controversial content in the media. This liberal exposure of the media is an example of our continuing effort to uphold the ideal of equality. In the past, minorities and women did not have the right to vote, or even express themselves freely. In essence, this upholding of civil liberties for everyone shows an incredible increase in moral attitude of our nation.

Plagiarized version

Despite the fact that many people believe that contemporary society has poor moral values in comparison to the past, our moral values have actually become evolved. In the past, media sources were scarce, but now, with the proliferation of various media sources, we are actually exposing more of the negative attributes of our society then we were able to in the past. Consider too, the fact that in the past, women and minorities did not have the same rights as the wealthy white male. This observation goes to prove that because we are now evolving our ideal of equality, that our society has actually become more morally advanced than it was in the past.

Both versions expose the very same idea. Just because the second version was written in the author's own words does not mean that the passage has not been plagiarized. This is the most commonly made error of plagiarism.

Submitting a work for publication or for school, when someone else wrote it

It might seem like common sense that submitting someone else's work would be considered plagiarism, but understand that even if the original author gave you permission to use his or her work, it is considered plagiarism. Say, for example, a student suddenly becomes overly burdened with certain situations. He or she may decide to pay someone to write that term-paper that's been sitting on the back burner. Even if the student provides resource materials and ideas for the author, he or she would be held accountable for plagiarism if the instructor found out about it.

Using charts or graphics without the proper footnotes

You can create your own graphics and charts, but be sure to footnote where you got the statistics. In the case of using actual charts that you find in reference materials, be sure to give the proper credit under the chart, not just in the "works cited" page.

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