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Plagiarism Resource Center

What is Plagiarism?

According to the Encyclopedia of Social Problems, "to represent oneself as the author of some work that is in fact the work of someone else is to plagiarize. Plagiarism may include the “passing off” of the form of the work—for example, the exact words of a piece of writing—or the intellectual content, or both" (Pickering).

Plagiarism can take many different forms including:

  • Turning in a paper someone else wrote;
  • Forgetting to cite the source which you paraphrased or quoted;
  • Copying someone else's work or thoughts without giving them credit;
  • Using a photograph, graph, or table without citing the source;
  • Copying and pasting from the internet, and
  • Submitting a paper you wrote for a previous class (self-plagiarism). 

You can see from the examples in this list, that some forms of plagiarism are intentional (a person makes a deliberate decision to plagiarize or cheat) and some are unintentional (a person forgets to cite or doesn't really understand how to cite). The best way to avoid unintentional plagiarism is to stay organized as you research and write your paper and bookmark citation style resources so that you have them when you need them. Your PBSC professors and PBSC librarians are also excellent resources if you need help or have questions about citations.


Pickering, J. W. (2008). Plagiarism. In V. N. Parrillo, Encyclopedia of social problems. Sage Publications. Credo Reference:



ProQuest Research Companion: Plagiarism

Self-Plagiarism and Common Knowledge

Did you know that you can plagiarize yourself? Turning in a paper that you wrote for another class is considered Self-Plagiarism because you are submitting it under the assumption that you did new, fresh research and writing for the current class. Do not turn in a previously written paper or project unless you have express permission from your professor to do so.

One exception for outside information you must cite is Common Knowledge. This refers to the kind of information that is prevalent enough that the average person would know as true without having to look it up. For example, it is common, accepted information that George Washington was the first President of the United States. Common knowledge does not have to be cited. If you are in doubt whether something should be cited, it is always best to be safe and cite it!