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English Composition: Avoiding Plagiarism

Why Cite

Failure to cite the sources used in a research paper is considered plagiarism.

1. Plagiarism is a violation of academic norms and a matter of academic integrity but not illegal; copyright infringement is a matter of federal law and is punishable as such.

2. Plagiarism is an offense against the author, while copyright violation is an offense against the copyright holder who may not be the author but may be some other entity, such as the publisher. 

3. Plagiarism can occur when ideas are copied, whereas copyright violation occurs only when a specific fixed expression is copied. Mere ideas are not protected by copyright law.

4. Plagiarism concerns properly apportioning intellectual credit, whereas copyright is concerned with properly compensating someone for use of their property where such compensation is required by law (e.g. no exception such as fair use applies).

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Be sure to acknowledge information and ideas taken from others. CITE the source for the following:

1.  Direct quotations

2.  Ideas from other sources, whether paraphrased or summarized

3.  Facts that are not considered common knowledge (facts such as the dates of important occurrences, are considered common knowledge and usually need not be footnoted)

If in doubt then cite the source.

Avoiding Plagiarism

UCC LibGuides at Union County College