Definition of plagiarism. "Plagiarism is failing to acknowledge the words, [materials] or ideas of another. . . [it can be] deliberate or accidental" (Tensen, 2004, p. 97). The problem is not with using information from other sources, that's what research papers are all about. The problem is that many students do not give credit to the sources of the information they use.
Source: Tensen, B.L. (2004). Research Strategies for a Digital Age. Boston: Wadsworth.

Credit your sources. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. Whenever you use someone else's ideas or work, you must give credit to your sources. If you use materials that come from any other source - text, images, audio - then make sure that you credit the source fully. If you do not credit your sources fully, you are guilty of plagiarism. This can have severe consequences.

Do not copy sentence by sentence. Many people think - incorrectly - that if you change the words around, you are not plagiarizing. This is not the case. If you copy the source sentence by sentence, altering or omitting some of the words, you can still be plagiarizing. When you create a paraphrase, you should read the original source and then write it out from scratch, creating each sentence and choosing your words based on what fits the context of your own work. In order to be able to do this, you will have to read the original source several times, so that you correctly understand what it says. After you completely understand what the source is saying, you will be able to put it into your own words and create a useful paraphrase. For some excellent examples of the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarizing, visit this page at Indiana University: How To Recognize Plagiarism.

Types of materials. Plagiarism is not limited to words. It also applies to other materials such as images, audio files, movie clips, statistics, etc. To protect yourself, always give credit to the source. When in doubt, cite your source.

This document was adapted from materials created by the University of Oklahoma.