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Plagiarism: Introduction

A library guide on identifying and avoiding plagiarism.

Plagiarism and How to Avoid It: Learning Outcomes

This library guide will help you learn how to:

  1. Define plagiarism
  2. Distinguish between paraphrase, summary, and in-text citations
  3. List the two common citation styles used at Cerro Coso
  4. Construct a properly-formatted in-text citation
  5. Identify properly formatted full MLA and APA citations

Defining Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

In a nutshell, plagiarism is passing off someone else’s work as your own. More specifically, it involves using someone else’s work – their words, thoughts, ideas, data, or designs – in the context of your own research or publishing, and failing to give credit to your source.

When you conduct academic research, you rely on the use of outside sources to answer your research questions and to support your own arguments. You build on the work of others in order to create new knowledge. When you do this, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of those whose work you have incorporated into your own – to give credit where it is due.

Why plagiarize?

People plagiarize for many reasons:

  • procrastination or poor time management: waiting too long to begin, then not having enough time to do it right
  • lack of confidence or lack of knowledge about how to begin or follow through with an assignment
  • confusion about when and how to cite sources
  • mistaken belief that it's not plagiarism if it's been paraphrased
  • temptation of readily available material on the Web

Intentional Plagiarism and Unintentional Plagiarism

Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. There are circumstances in which individuals knowingly use others’ intellectual property without acknowledging their work. But plagiarism is not always that cut and dried, and inexperience or ignorance can lead to mistakes.

Intentional plagiarism is knowingly presenting someone else’s work as your own, or stealing that person’s intellectual property, and includes the following examples:

  • buying a research paper online and submitting it as your own work
  • submitting a copy of somebody else's (friend or relative) research paper as your own work
  • self-plagiarism - recycling a prior research paper and submitting it as your own recent work
  • cyber-plagiarism - copying and pasting from an online source into your paper without citing the source

Unintentional plagiarism is failing to give proper credit to someone else’s work for any of these reasons:

  • negligence or lack of attention
  • not realizing when a citation is needed
  • providing incorrect information within a citation

In this short video three Bakersfield College faculty members weigh in on what constitutes plagiarism:

What happens if you plagiarize?

Procedure 4F8G of the Cerro Coso Community College Student Conduct Policy identifies plagiarism as an offense that may result in a failing grade on the assignment, as well as additional penalties determined to be appropriate by the College.

You are subject to penalties regardless of whether your plagiarism was intentional or unintentional, so take your time, and when in doubt cite your source.

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