The Dangers of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a crime! As defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, plagiarism is the act of stealing someone else’s ideas or words and claiming them as your own. Plagiarism is using someone else’s production (a video, a piece of music, a photograph) without citing the source. Plagiarism is when someone presents as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. Plagiarism is an act of literary theft (known as theft of intellectual property. Plagiarism is an act of fraud.

The article “What is Plagiarism?” (2017) notes that acts of plagiarism include the following:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)

Videos, pieces of music, images and photos are all protected under applicable copyright laws. Anyone who copies images from another website, makes a video that includes footage from another video, uses copyrighted music as part of a soundtrack, performs (“covers”) another person’s copyrighted music, or composes a piece of music that borrows heavily from another copyrighted composition, is committing an act of plagiarism. And, remember, plagiarism is an act of fraud. Plagiarism is a crime!

Ways to Prevent Plagiarism

How to avoid plagiarism

Date published December 5, 2019 by Raimo Streefkerk. Date updated: May 29, 2020

To ensure that your paper is free of plagiarism, take the time to follow these four steps:

  1. Keep a record of the sources you use to conduct your research.
  2. Paraphrase or quote* from your sources
  3. Credit the original author in an in-text citation and reference list
  4. Use a plagiarism checker before you submit your work

*See TWC Writing Skills Tutorial Series No. 12 and No. 13