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Citation Guide

Discover and explore the basics of why and how to cite.

What is Plagiarism?    Photo of key reading "Do Not Duplicate"

Anyone who has written or graded a paper knows that plagiarism is not always a black and white issue. The boundary between plagiarism and research is often unclear. Many people think of plagiarism as copying another's work, or borrowing someone else's original ideas. But terms like "copying" and "borrowing" can disguise the seriousness of the offense.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means

  • to 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.
  • In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

But can words and ideas really be stolen?

According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • 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

This information has been freely provided by plagiarism.org and can be reproduced without the need to obtain any further permission as long as the URL of the original article/information is cited.

What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved October 19, 2009, from <http://www.plagiarism.org/plagiarism-101/what-is-plagiarism>

Limestone University Honor Pledge

“Honesty in personal and academic matters is a cornerstone of life at Limestone University. Students are expected to achieve on their own merits and abilities, to exercise integrity in all their affairs, and to refrain absolutely from lying, cheating, and stealing.”

I agree to refrain from academic misconduct. I further understand that there are serious consequences for academic misconduct, outlined in Academic Procedures of the Limestone University’s Academic Catalog.

Limestone University Student Handbook 

August 2021 Version


Refer to the academic misconduct link above for a copy of Limestone University's policy on Academic Conduct.

If you are experiencing problems with our guides, please contact Janet S. Ward, jward@limestone.edu, Associate Professor and Web Services Librarian.