What is Plagiarism? - Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:04 Plagiarism
  • 0:17 Impact of Plagiarism
  • 0:57 Types
  • 2:00 Avoiding Plagiarism
  • 2:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Vivian Taylor
Plagiarism can sometimes be difficult for students to recognize. This lesson helps to clarify any confusion surrounding exactly what does and does not constitute plagiarism.


Plagiarism is the act of passing off someone else's ideas or writing as your own. Plagiarism can range from something as recognizable as a direct quote to something as vague as summarizing an idea.

Impact of Plagiarism

In everyday life, we convey other people's ideas without giving credit. When you express your opinion about a new movie to a friend, and that friend passes that information on to other friends, you won't necessarily receive credit for your thoughts. Stopping to cite sources in daily speech would weigh down casual conversations. However, in academic work, we have plenty of room to cite any ideas or words that we borrowed from someone else. If we don't cite them, we are being academically dishonest and forgoing the opportunity to develop our own critical thinking skills. When we don't cite others' ideas in our work, it's difficult for readers to determine which ideas are our own and which are someone else's.


There are two types of plagiarism: intentional plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism.

Intentional plagiarism is generally considered a worse academic offense because it requires deception. To avoid intentional plagiarism, you have to learn to trust your own thoughts and ideas. Once you have read up on a topic and formed your own ideas, you won't feel the need to borrow heavily from someone else. Instead, you'll have enough confident in your own thoughts to allow them to stand on their own. If you find yourself needing some extra supporting details, you can quote an expert on the topic and accredit him or her appropriately.

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