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Plagiarism & Paraphrasing: Plagiarism

A guide going in depth on plagiarism and paraphrasing. To be used in conjunction with in person and Canvas sessions.

Plagiarism & Paraphrasing

You have probably heard instructors talk about plagiarism and that you should avoid it. However, do you really know what plagiarism is, or how it can affect your education and your life beyond school?

This guide is designed to provide you with definitions and examples of plagiarism and give you the skills and knowledge to avoid it.

A general definition of plagiarism is to use someone else's words or ideas and not give them credit.  A more formal definition of plagiarism coming from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary says, to ‘plagiarize’ means:
" steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own, to use (another's production) without crediting the source, to commit literary theft, to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source."
Simply put, using someone else's words, ideas, works (i.e. paintings, writings, manuscripts, etc.) without crediting the source.  You can even plagiarize yourself by turning in a work produced for a previous class as a new work without first getting permission from your current instructor.
Committing plagiarism is considered very serious at Tusculum University.  
Sometimes plagiarism happens by accident, and sometimes it is on purpose. It could be from a lack of knowledge about plagiarism, a lack of knowledge about the consequences, or sometimes a lack of confidence in your own writing skills.
For some people, it could also be a belief that plagiarism is not a serious problem or that it only affects the academic environment. Other people may think that plagiarism involves only text- based sources, or sometimes they just do not know how to cite or paraphrase.
No matter the reason, whether intentional or accidental, It is important to realize that there are consequences for plagiarizing. At Tusculum University, this could include failing the assignment or even the class. Later in life, plagiarism could even cost you a job. Perhaps you've seen the "Piracy is not a victimless crime" for films or other forms of digital entertainment? Plagiarism is more or less in the same kind of category. When you plagiarize, you are taking away the hard work and effort that someone else did and calling it your own. Thus, it discredits your work and theirs.
Naturally, just DON'T do it in the first place.
Double check your work against your sources. If they are too similar, consider rewriting or working out a different paraphrase and citation.
Ask your instructor or your librarians for help. You can even have a tutor look over your work. Look into Grammarly's Plagiarism Checker or visit to discover more information on avoiding plagiarism.
Use citations throughout your paper whenever you borrow from a source. Always cite your sources, even if you paraphrase or summarize a source. When in doubt, cite it.
Use a "writing cleanroom.." This means trying to make it a point to never add unoriginal writing to a work-in-progress assignment without immediate citation or attribution.

Thomas J. Garland Library     P.O. Box 5005, 60 Shiloh Rd., Greeneville, TN 37745     (423)636-7320

Thomas J. Garland Library P.O. Box 5005, 60 Shiloh Rd. Greeneville, TN 37745, (423)636-7320