Plagiarism happens when we use another person’s intellectual materials and don’t give them credit. Intellectual property is defined as any kind of material (writing, art, music, film, etc.) or ideas envisioned and created by another person. Plagiarism can happen intentionally or unintentionally; authors have final responsibility for handing in their own work and carefully ensuring that they give credit for others’ work.
Plagiarism is a kind of academic dishonesty—a kind of . Colleges and universities take plagiarism seriously; many discipline or even students who are found to be plagiarizing.
How can you avoid plagiarism? Follow these steps:
- As much as possible, do your own work. In other words, always start by writing what you know about a subject. Handle outside sources respectfully; be sure to paraphrase, summarize, and use quotations properly.
- Start your research early, and take notes carefully. Don’t wait until just before your essay is due to start your research. When you add source material to your work, mark it so that you will remember it’s from a source. Cite the work immediately and add it to your works cited list.
- If you use someone else’s intellectual property, you must give them credit. If you bring their work into your assignment, you must mention them as the work’s owners. Remember: this includes all kinds of property: words, photographs, drawings, charts, graphs, poems, music, videos, etc. – and ideas that belong to someone else.
To give credit for intellectual property (also called source materials) in your academic writing, you must do the following:
- Create an in-text citation: Mention the source’s owner/creator in your written work at the point where the source is used.
- Create a list of all of the sources you used in your assignment; you’ll do this by arranging them in a Works Cited list at the end of your essay.
- Make sure sources on the Works Cited page are actually cited in your essay. If you read some source materials to learn more about your topic but do not mention them in your paper, you do not need to list them in the works cited list when using MLA format. But if you later end up using those sources in your paper, then you’ll need to add them to your works cited, so be sure to keep a list in your notebook of all of your sources. One strategy is to keep two lists:
- Works Cited, and
- Works Consulted – then, if you do later cite something from one of these sources, you can move it to the Works Cited list. You do not need to add your Works Consulted list to your final draft in MLA format.