Plagiarism is taking credit for someone else's writing as your own, including their language and ideas, without providing adequate credit.[1] The University of Cambridge defines plagiarism as: "submitting as one's own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement."[2]

Wikipedia has three core content policies, of which two make it easy to plagiarize inadvertently. No original research prohibits us from adding our own ideas to articles, and Verifiability requires that articles be based on reliable published sources. These policies mean that Wikipedians are highly vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism because we must stick closely to sources, but not too closely. Because plagiarism can occur without an intention to deceive, concerns should focus on educating the editor and cleaning up the article.

Sources are annotated using inline citations, typically in the form of footnote (see Citing sources).[3] In addition to an inline citation, in-text attribution is usually required when quoting or closely paraphrasing source material (for example: "John Smith wrote that the building looked spectacular," or "According to Smith (2012) ...").[4] The Manual of Style requires in-text attribution when quoting a full sentence or more.[5][failed verification] Naming the author in the text allows the reader to see that it relies heavily on someone else's ideas, without having to search in the footnote. You can avoid inadvertent plagiarism by remembering these rules of thumb:

  • INCITE: Cite a source in the form of an inline citation after the sentence or paragraph in question.
  • INTEXT: Add in-text attribution when you copy or closely paraphrase another author's words or flow of thought, unless the material lacks creativity or originates from a free source.
  • INTEGRITY: Maintain text–source integrity: place your inline citations so that it is clear which source supports which point, or use citation bundling and explain in the footnote.

Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing.[6] Copyright infringement occurs when content is used in a way that violates a copyright holder's exclusive right. Giving credit does not mean the infringement has not occurred, so be careful not to quote so much of a non-free source that you violate the non-free content guideline.[7] Similarly, even though there is no copyright issue, public-domain content is plagiarized if used without acknowledging the source. For advice on how to avoid violating copyright on Wikipedia, see Copyright violation. For how to deal with copying material from free sources, such as public-domain sources, see below.

  1. ^ "What Constitutes Plagiarism?", Harvard Guide to Using Sources, Harvard University: "In academic writing, it is considered plagiarism to draw any idea or any language from someone else without adequately crediting that source in your paper. It doesn't matter whether the source is a published author, another student, a Web site without clear authorship, a Web site that sells academic papers, or any other person: Taking credit for anyone else's work is stealing, and it is unacceptable in all academic situations, whether you do it intentionally or by accident." The university offers examples of different kinds of plagiarism, including verbatim plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, inadequate paraphrase, uncited paraphrase, uncited quotation.
  2. ^ "University-wide statement on plagiarism", University of Cambridge.

    For subject-specific guidelines, see "Guidance provided by Faculties and Departments", University of Cambridge.

  3. ^ For example, Smith 2012, p. 1, or Smith, John. Name of Book. Name of Publisher, 2012, p. 1.
  4. ^ "What Constitutes Plagiarism?", Harvard Guide to Using Sources, Harvard University (see "Uncited paraphrase" and "Uncited quotation").

    There may be exceptions when using extensive content from free or copy-left sources, so long as proper attribution is provided in footnote or in the references section at the bottom of the page.

  5. ^ See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Attribution: "The author of a quote of a full sentence or more should be named; this is done in the main text and not in a footnote. However, attribution is unnecessary with quotations that are clearly from the person discussed in the article or section. When preceding a quotation with its attribution, avoid characterizing it in a biased manner."
  6. ^ Levy, Neill A. "Tweedledum and Tweedledee: Plagiarism and Copyright", Cinahl Information Systems, 17(3.4), Fall/Winter 1998.
  7. ^ Copyright: Fair Use: "Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission."

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