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"What is plagiarism?  Webster's Dictionary defines it as: "to steal and pass off [the ideas or words of another] as one's own,  use [a created production] without crediting the source, to commit literary theft, present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.  "Wake Forest University defines it as: 'To put your name on a piece of work is to say that it is yours, that the praise or criticism due to it is due to you. To put your name on a piece of work any part of which is not yours is plagiarism, unless that piece is clearly marked and the work from which you have borrowed is fully identified. Plagiarism is a form of theft. Taking words, phrasing, sentence structure, or any other element of the expression of another personís ideas, and using them as if they were yours, is like taking from that person a material possession, something he or she has worked for and earned.  Even worse is the appropriation of someone elseís ideas. By 'ideas' is meant everything from the definition or interpretation of a single word, to the overall approach or argument. 

If you paraphrase, you merely translate from his or her language to yours; another personís ideas in your language are still not your ideas.  Paraphrase, therefore, without proper documentation, is theft, perhaps of the worst kind. Here, a person loses not a material possession, but something of what characterized him or her as an individual.  Plagiarism is a serious violation of another personís rights, whether the material stolen is great or small; it is not a matter of degree or intent. You know how much you would have had to say without someone elseís help; and you know how much you have added on your own. Your responsibility, when you put your name on a piece of work, is simply to distinguish between what is yours and what is not, and to credit those who have in any way contributed.'"  

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Copyright 1995 Helen L. McKinnon All Rights Reserved

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