Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2002) defines plagiarism as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own” or “use (another’s production) without crediting the source” or “to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”
Avoiding plagiarism doesn’t mean that you can never use other people’s ideas. You can use other people’s ideas and words but you need to acknowledge who these ideas and words belong to by CITING them.
When to cite sources:
- Direct quote of more than one word.
- Paraphrasing or summarizing.
- Information which may be common knowledge but still unfamiliar to your reader.
- Cite books, articles, interviews, websites, TV programs, etc. Any information you are using that is not yours.
- Whenever you are not sure if something should be cited, err on the side of caution and cite sources.