Plagiarism and the Internet

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the improper borrowing of another person's words, ideas, or methods. If you use another person's material, you must acknowledge your source. When you cite a source properly, you have given credit where it is due, and you have also given your readers a way to locate the original material on their own.

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What's wrong with plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a direct violation of academic code: whether you borrow a single idea, a sentence, or an entire essay, if you pass someone else's work off as your own, you risk expulsion. Also, plagiarism undermines the work you are doing as a student. You are not expected to have ideas that consistently rival those of experts and professional scholars, but you are expected to know how to find expert opinions on a given subject and how to properly cite those opinions.

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What does this have to do with the Internet?

With the accessibility of the Internet comes new temptations to plagiarize. Web sites have sprung up offering for sale completed essays on any topic. The catch? Those sites are just as accessible to your instructor as they are to you. Most writing teachers are aware of what can be bought and can easily spot a "recycled" essay. Don't risk it. And don't cheat yourself out of your education.

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Citing your sources properly requires following the rules: a number of organizations, such as the Modern Languages Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Council of Biological Sciences, have developed documentation guidelines for use in their disciplines. Use the documentation guidelines your instructor recommends.

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Most English classes use the MLA style of formatting citations. Barebones guidelines for the MLA documentation style can be found on the Web at: MLA Style

If you are citing electronic sources such as web sites and CD-ROMs (and you have already checked with your instructor to be sure they are appropriate sources), you can find more help with formatting by visiting sites listed on the following page:
M.O.R.E. (McGraw-Hill Online Resources for English) Direct Links to Internet Research Resources: includes links to resources covering Internet reference, netiquette, research across the curriculum, evaluating Internet sources, copyright issues, and documentation conventions.

The McGraw-Hill Guide to Electronic Research and Documentation by Diana Roberts Wienbroer: a detailed, step-by-step guide to online research and correct citation.

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