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What is Plagiarism?

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, to plagiarize is to:

  • steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own, 
  • use (another's production) without crediting the source,
  • commit literary theft,
  • present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

As the dictionary states, it's first known use was in 1660, so this type of theft has been with us a long time! Yet, it can be difficult to ensure you don't plagiarize. This guide will help you.

Why Citing is Important?

Citation is an important part of the research process because ...

  1. It allows you to give proper credit for the ideas of others and avoid plagiarism.
  2. It allows others to identify and locate the materials used in your work. Many readers rely on citations to identify other relevant literature on a topic.
  3. It demonstrates the depth of your research showing that you have read and engaged the relevant literature on your topic. This indicates that you have an informed understanding of your subject and enhances the credibility of your findings.

What Needs to be Cited?

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise refer to the work of another, you must cite the source using either a parenthetical citation, footnote, or endnote. In addition, a References page or Works Cited page is almost always placed at the end of your paper.

In-text citations are abbreviated citations that are in the body of the paper. They direct readers to the full bibliographic citations listed in your Works Cited or References list. In most cases, they include the author's last name, year, and page number for the information cited.


Which Citation Style to Use?

Different academic disciplines use different citation styles. The three most popular citation styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago. It is always best to ask your professor which citation style they prefer, but as a general rule these styles are used as follows:

  • MLA: Art, Literature, and the Humanities
  • APA: Psychology and the Social Sciences
  • Chicago: History, Humanities, and the Sciences

What are the Consequences of Plagiarism?

There are many examples of well known figures found plagiarizing, from current First Lady Melania Trump, to former Vice President and current Democratic primary candidate Joe Biden. It may appear that there are little to no consequences in 'real life' for plagiarizing. These two figures have suffered little. After all, there is no law against it. There is only the negative attention and shame.

But in academia and scholarly communications, this is not the case. Consequences for plagiarizing, which is a violation of academic integrity, can be very serious, including failing classes and having degrees revoked. These consequences may not occur until long after your time at college. For example, a Canadian educator lost his job and had his PhD revoked after plagiarism accusations arose, and a nominee for a job at the US National Security Council withdrew from consideration when the scrutiny of entry to public service revealed plagiarism in her PhD thesis.

See the CUNY and CSI policies linked in the box on the left for more details on the consequences of not upholding academic integrity.