Plagiarism is taking the ideas of another and using them without giving proper credit. It is a form of stealing and a serious academic offense.
Plagiarism is not necessarily the same as copyright infringement, which occurs when one violates copyright law by failing to get permission from the copyright holder. A violation of the terms of Free Document License can be plagiarism when a proper historical trail of contributions is not present as a reference or a hyperlink in an article.
Plagiarism is unethical behavior that can generate various forms of social punishment such as loss of reputation, failure in a course at a school, loss of a professional job, recall of a book, or forfeiture of a license.
Plagiarism is the passing off of another person's work as one's own. The key is that a person claims credit or appears to claim credit for writing done by someone else. Accidental plagiarism is usually the result of poor citation or referencing, poor preparation, or a misunderstanding of plagiarism. Deliberate plagiarism is an attempt to claim another person's work as one's own, usually by removing telltale evidence so the plagiarism is hard to spot.
An unacknowledged use of words, ideas, information, research, or findings not one's own, taken from any source is plagiarism only if a person is claiming personal credit for originality. It is not plagiarism to use well-known facts without acknowledging a source because readers understand the author is not claiming originality.
According to Diana Hacker, "Three acts are plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words."  Other experts say that absence of quotation marks is not by itself plagiarism. If they have been removed to hide plagiarism, that proves the plagiarism is deliberate. For other interpretations see MLA (Modern Language Association), the APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago Manual of Style.
Self-plagiarism is the act of copying one's published or submitted writing without mentioning the previous publication. For example, in academic assignments, the submission of the same paper in more than one course is considered self-plagiarism. Self-plagiarism is not usually considered an academic offense, but the deceit involved in submitting the same material for credit in different courses is considered unethical. It is common for scholars to rephrase and republish their own work, as they are constantly developing their ideas.
Intentional plagiarism where an entire essay or research paper is copied from another source is blamed on a combination of stress and laziness. Unintentional plagiarism is blamed on a lack of knowledge about how to cite sources. Plagiarism is so easy to do that many students may not even realize that they might be guilty of plagiarism. Another reason sometimes blamed for plagiarism is cryptomnesia, recalling of memories without realizing their source and thinking these memories are original creations. Helen Keller claimed to have been a victim of cryptomnesia when she wrote "The Frost King".
There is no definitive research into the frequency of plagiarism. Any research that has taken place has focused on universities. There are no published statistics for the school or college sectors; awarding bodies do not maintain statistics on plagiarism.
Of the forms of cheating (including plagiarism, inventing data and cheating during an exam), students admit to plagiarism more than any other. Twenty five percent to 90 percent of students admit to plagiarism. However, this figure reduces considerably when students are asked about the frequency of "serious" plagiarism, such as copying most of an assignment or purchasing a complete paper from a website. In those instances only 20 percent and 10 percent report as having plagiarized at that level.
In academic circles, plagiarism is avoided by using a citation style, such as MLA style, Chicago style, or APA style. Generally speaking, facts that are common knowledge, for example the date that WWII ended, need not be referenced; while facts that are not considered common knowledge in one's field must be cited. Similarly, a quote from any source, words or information, even if paraphrased, or any ideas not one's own must be cited.
For instance, while it is acceptable to copy several paragraphs of text from a book and place them in a paper, if the source of the text (the author's name and title of the work) is not identified, even if the text is well known, for example an excerpt from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, it is considered plagiarism.
Similarly, it is considered plagiarism to take someone's idea and then present it as one's own work. However, it is not considered plagiarism when two (or more) people independently come up with the same ideas. This can be the result of simultaneous inspiration, which happens when many people exposed to the same source and some interpret it similarly. This also can happen with short logical phrases that are easily put together by many people independently.
There is some difference of opinion over how much credit must be given in non-academic settings, such as when preparing a newspaper article or historical account. Generally, reference is made to original source material as much as possible, and writers avoid taking credit for others' work. The use of facts in non-academic settings, rather than works of creative expression, does not usually constitute plagiarism.
A market has emerged for pre-written papers, often via websites offering essays and papers for sale to students. Some sites provide free documents because they receive monetary support from sponsors. Other websites offer essays for money. These websites provide a database of topics or custom-made essays on any topic for a fee. Some websites offer monthly subscriptions while others offer a price per essay. Generally, such sites include a copyright statement or anti-plagiarism notice with their papers.
Similarly, a counter-industry has developed, with companies offering services for schools and instructors to compare a student's papers to a database of sources and search for plagiarism.
The Internet has provided increased opportunities for plagiarism, since people are now able to use search engines to find information, which can be easily copied and pasted into documents. The Internet can also be used to combat plagiarism. Teachers use search engines for parts of suspicious essays. However, search engine checks offer only a partial solution to spotting plagiarism. The best solution would be to check against a continuously growing body of text. This prevents students from turning in work that may not have been published on the Internet but is otherwise plagiarized.
Many teachers have turned to plagiarism prevention services that automate the search by comparing each paper against millions of online sources. In the early 2000s, many students in Canadian colleges and universities publicly protested against online plagiarism-preventing services, claiming that the use of such services reduced the personal involvement of the instructor with the student's work, introduced the possibility of incorrectly-cited quotations being considered as plagiarized text and, most importantly, assumed a priori guilt on the part of the student(s) in question.
Plagiarism by students can result in punishment ranging from a failing grade on the particular assignment or course, suspension, or expulsion. Professional academics found guilty of plagiarism can ruin an academic career, result in revocation of one's degree or license, or the loss of one's job.
Although plagiarism is often referred to as "theft" or "stealing," it is not usually prosecuted under criminal law. Sometimes acts that constitute plagiarism are treated as copyright infringement, unfair competition, or a violation of the doctrine of moral rights. More often charges of plagiarism are resolved through disciplinary proceedings.
Just as there can be plagiarism without lawbreaking, it is possible to violate copyright law without plagiarizing. For example, one could distribute the full text of a bestseller on the Internet while giving credit for it to the original author, financially damaging the author and publisher.
In common law countries, plagiarism itself is not a crime; there are copyright infringement laws, and those laws are primarily in the civil codes; criminal codes require that it is both willful and noticeable amounts of money or physical property are involved..
According to some academic ethics codes, a complaint of plagiarism may be initiated or proven by any person. The person originating the complaint need not be the owner of the plagiarized content, nor need there be communication from a content owner directing that an investigation or disciplinary be conducted. In many academic settings intent does not even enter into consideration. Princeton dismisses intent as "irrelevant" and Doug Johnson says that intent is "not necessary for a work to be considered plagiaristic and as one respondent put it, 'ignorance of the law is no excuse.' Some universities will even revoke a degree if plagiarism is proved
New Jersey high-school student Blair Hornstine had her admission to Harvard University revoked in July 2003 after she was found to have passed off speeches and writings by famous figures, including Bill Clinton, as her own in articles she wrote as a student journalist for a local newspaper.
New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:
Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.