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Citation Guide: What is Plagiarism?

A guide to citing your sources

You DON'T need to cite...

Common Knowledge
e.g., The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

The thirteen colonies formed the United States of America.

The capital of West Virginia is Charleston.

Your Own Opinions & Ideas
...but be careful! If your ideas are based upon material you've reviewed, make sure to cite or attribute the work your opinion is based upon.


We would like to thank Joe Hardenbrook and the librarians at Cofrin Library, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, for permitting us to incorporate their ideas and content into this LibGuide.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as: "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft."

If you do not cite someone else's work -- even if it's just a few words or a short statement -- you have plagiarized.

This includes:

  • Copying someone else's work without citing from print or online sources, such as:
    • Wikipedia and other websites, blogs or social media
    • articles in a magazine, journal, or newspaper
    • textbooks
    • books, including reference materials like encyclopedias
  • Rewording (paraphrasing) a source, or someone else's idea, without citing it.
  • Failing to place quotation marks around a direct quote.
  • Fabricating citations or providing incorrect references.
  • Buying an essay online or from another student and turning it in as your own.
  • Asking someone else to write a paper for you, and then turning it in as your own.
  • Any form of "copying & pasting" someone else's work without properly citing it

Caught on Tape: Plagiarism Examples

A Quick Guide to Plagiarism, via YouTube. Video created by Cape Fear Community College.

Just Because You Put It In Your Own Words... , via YouTube. Video created by Lehman College.


Plagiarism in the News

Headlines compiled by Google News

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