Plagiarism is copying someone else's ideas and calling it your own.
Whether you quote something directly or "paraphrase" it (taking an
idea from an article and adapting it to your words), you must give
credit to the author. If you quote something directly, you must put
quotation marks around it and quote it with 100% accuracy.
The only thing you need not credit is "common knowledge" including:
- information that everyone knows
- common proverbs and expressions
- information that is given in every source in the subject, and
- general conclusions that anyone could reach.
For example, you need not cite a source for the facts that John
Cabot explored North America, that "A penny saved is a penny earned,"
that Charles Darwin died in 1882, or that watching television is
a popular Canadian pastime. In the end, plagarism is a matter of
EXAMPLES OF PLAGIARISM
Even if very little direct copying is used, if the idea belongs to
another author, and a writer merely puts the original words into
his or her own words, the result is plagiarism.
We revere men of genius because they have the ability to
relate to all sections of humanity, so that everyone can
find something for himself in them. Michelangelo, however,
demands that we approach him on his own terms because he is
so concentrated and uncompromising in his works. His artistry,
both in form and content, is revealed to us in such a way as
to cause all other things to seem insignificant and mundane.
- This passage closely resembles the ideas of the original author
who should be referred to as a reference at the end of the passage.
EXAMPLES THAT ARE NOT PLAGIARISM
Common Historical Facts:
- Michelangelo was born near Florence on March 6, 1475 of
aristocratic parents who had fallen on hard times.
- Alexander Graham Bell, lived in Brantford Ontario, worked
as an acoustic engineer, and is usuually given credit as
being the inventor of the telephone.
- Soccer is a popular sport.
- Birds are believed to have evolved from dinasaurs.
- The earth is round.
If you can find a reference that disagrees with any of these
generally agreed upon facts, be prepared to quote the source,
and give the author credit deserved.