What Is Plagiarism?

Definition of Plagiarism: Plagiarism means to take the words, ideas, or analysis that some other person has written and represent them as your own words, ideas, or analysis.

Open Access

But a lot of text on the Internet is “open access.” Can’t I use it?

No! A lot of text on the internet is freely available.

It may be labeled as “open access,” “Creative Commons License,” or “public domain.”

These terms mean that you can have access to the text, but it does not mean that you can use it as if it were your own writing!

Now, let’s watch a video about a student who is confused about plagiarism.

Video Transcript
(Phone Rings)
Bailey Smith: Hello.

Natalie Sanchez: Hello, could I please speak with Ms. Smith?

Bailey Smith: This is she.

Natalie Sanchez: Hi Ms. Smith, this is Natalie Sanchez. I’m a student enrolled in English 101. I just received a notification from you that I’m apparently being accused of plagiarism. Could you please explain to me what this is all about? I am really upset; I worked really hard on this paper. I’ve been an excellent student all semester and I believe this is an A paper, and I really have no idea what it is you’re charging me with.

Bailey Smith: Yes, I sent you the plagiarism policy for Excelsior University. There is a form that is included with the policy that you need to sign and return to me immediately.

Natalie Sanchez: Now wait a minute! Are you saying I plagiarized? I can’t believe it!

Bailey Smith: I’m not accusing you of plagiarism. I’m only saying that I received notification to that effect from your professor.

Natalie Sanchez: OK, well why exactly is she saying I plagiarized?

Bailey Smith: Well, Ms. Sanchez, you submitted a paper for the course and she ran it through a program called TurnitIn.

Natalie Sanchez: Turnitin? I’ve never heard of it. Could you please explain to me what Turnitin is all about?

Bailey Smith: Yes. Turnitin is a system that checks student papers for incorrect citations and possible plagiarism. Turnitin generates an originality report and according to that report, 41% of the text of your paper was not original.

Natalie Sanchez: I see. So what happens now?

Bailey Smith: You should make sure that you read the policy and sign the form saying that you received the policy on plagiarism and return it to me. This policy is included in the syllabus of every course at Excelsior University.

Natalie Sanchez: OK, but what will happen to me in the course?

Bailey Smith: Well, Ms. Sanchez, I can see that this is the first time that you have had a problem like this.

Natalie Sanchez: Yes, that’s correct.

Bailey Smith: Well, for the first time offense your professor has the option of allowing you to rewrite the assignment or giving you a grade of zero. You should contact your professor about the next step.

Natalie Sanchez: All right, I’ll do that.

Bailey Smith: You need to understand that this incident will become part of your record, and if there is a second incident of this type, your case will automatically be referred to the Associate Dean, who will make a decision on the action to be taken.

Natalie Sanchez: Really, the consequences of plagiarism are that serious?

Bailey Smith: Indeed. Plagiarism is taken very seriously in the United States. Please read the policy carefully and return the form to me.

Natalie Sanchez: OK then, I’ll send the form to you, and then I’ll get in touch with my instructor.

Bailey Smith: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?

Natalie Sanchez: No, thank you.

Bailey Smith: Good-bye then.

Natalie Sanchez: Good-bye. So what is plagiarism anyway?

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