To plagiarize means to take someone else's words and/or ideas (or patterns of ideas) and to present them to the reader as if they are yours. Plagiarism, then, is an act of stealing. It is also an unwise act because it does not help you learn, and it is a dangerous act because you can be severely punished for it.
You should be on guard against plagiarism at any time when writing a paper to be turned in. In some papers you will write, you will be assigned to use only your own ideas and will probably not have to worry about plagiarism. At any time, however, that you read anything in preparation for a paper or consciously recall anything that you have read or heard, you must be prepared to provide documentation.
Generally, when you use someone else's ideas and/or words, you will either quote that person directly or you will paraphrase or summarize that person's words. You must let the reader know which you are doing.
- If you quote the source directly, you must:
- put quotation marks before and after that person's words
- let the reader know the source by (1) putting a footnote number at the end of the quotation, or (2) putting at least the source's name in parentheses after the quotation marks.
- If you paraphrase (a paraphrase is about the same length as the original but in different words) or if you summarize (a summary is a severely shortened version of the original), you must
- introduce the source in some manner at the beginning of the passage being paraphrased (or summarized) so that a reader can tell where your idea stops and the other person's begins;
- state the ideas taken from the source in your own words and your own arrangement. It is possible to plagiarize sentence patterns as well as exact words. A handy rule: if in a paraphrase or summary, you use a stretch of more than three words in their exact order from a source, you should put those words into quotation marks;
- provide an exact source citation for the ideas paraphrased or summarized. This may be done either by footnote number at the end of the passages or by a parenthetical reference to the work and page(s). This citation provides credit to the author being used and allows the reader access to the material for further study.
- You must also provide a footnote for any chart, graph, figure, table, summary, or other data taken directly from another source or any information derived from such materials. When you are assigned a research paper or project, check with your instructor to determine what particular footnote style you should follow. If, at any time, you have questions or doubts as to whether or not you are plagiarizing, check with your instructor before you complete your paper.
Source: UTC Student Handbook 2009-10, pp.5-6