Professional writers tend to cringe at the thought of plagiarism, but the cold hard facts are that plagiarism is common even in the writing world. Plagiarism by definition is “the act of using someone else’s words and calling them your own”. For example if you copied and pasted a paragraph out of an article or essay and used it word for word in your article or research paper then you have indeed committed plagiarism and broke the law. Some consider paraphrasing a form of plagiarism if it is not done properly.
Young students may use plagiarism in a research paper or report without even knowing it or thinking about the repercussions. Some people get confused between plagiarism and paraphrasing. They may like a sentence and want to paraphrase, but unintentionally plagiarize because they did not change the words correctly. Paraphrasing someone’s idea into your own words can be challenging that is why a good rule of thumb would be to cite your sources just as a precaution. Teachers should explain to students at a young age what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. With the Internet and the vast resources right at your fingertips it is easy to plagiarize and get away with it. On the other hand using the Internet and specific software like www.CheckForPlagiarism.net it is also easy to find out if a paper has been plagiarized. These resources can be helpful to writers and students because you can scan your work through this software before you submit it and make sure your information is plagiarism-free.
Plagiarism is handled differently in various situations. A student plagiarizing in a research paper may get a slap on the hand or an “F” on the paper. Journalists however, will be suspended or terminated depending on the circumstances. Plagiarism goes against the ethics of any writer and is considered a serious offense. Plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement, but it is equally unethical.
It is essential when writing a research paper, an article, or book that the writer cites his sources. By citing your source you can avoid plagiarism and give credit for the information to the right person. In order to cite the source correctly you must use the proper format. You can use MLA, APA or another academic/writing approved format. Some common ways to cite your source is to mention the author in the sentence, include the source in parenthesis at the end of the sentence, or use endnotes and footnotes to state your sources.
Using writing styles such as MLA, APA, or Chicago will assist you in formatting your citations properly and will help make your piece more professional and easier to follow. Below are some links to walk you through the steps of each format.