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What is Plagiarism?

When you take information from another person's writing, song, conversation, or even their own idea and trying to use it as your own, this act is known as plagiarism. Plagiarism includes information from books, television shows, poetry, songs, web pages, artwork, articles, and any other information on any other medium. It is incredibly important to indicate the source of the information that you used within the paper, which is known as an internal citation. When you are taking information from any one of these areas, if you fail or neglect to properly cite, acknowledge, or quote someone else's words from their work without adding in the internal citation, then it is considered to be plagiarism. It is not legal to take someone's hard work and use it as your own words to get credit for it, therefore, to avoid causing any trouble for yourself, it is important to make sure and use your own words or to site the information you received into your project.

Common Knowledge  

People want to know if they need to cite their source when the information that they are wanting to put down is considered to be common knowledge. The first thing to do is to define common knowledge and if the information that you are wanting to type fits in with that definition. When you hear the phrase common knowledge, it simply means that the information can be considered reliable by the individual who is reading it, without having to look it up or do any research on it. This includes information that many or most people are already made aware of, knowledge of a certain field that is shared by many members, or it can be specific information that is shared whether by a national or a cultural group of individuals. However, it is important to realize that even though some information is considered to be common knowledge in some cultures, nations, or even peer groups, it doesn't mean that it is common knowledge to other types of groups.

There are several ways that can help you to determine if the information that you have is common knowledge or if it's not. When you are determining this, it is important to take into consideration if what you have to write is something that the audience might already know, if you might be asked where it is exactly that you found this information, and who the audience might be that will be reading this information. To keep yourself safe and writing properly, the best thing you can do if you are in doubt about the information is common knowledge or not, it is better to just cite your source.


Everyone is aware that when you are trying to gather information, and you are trying to put all of the information together, a beneficial thing that you are able to do is to paraphrase. When you are taking the information from a source, you are obviously going to need to use some of that information. However, to avoid copying all of the same information and getting caught plagiarizing, paraphrasing is an important thing to do to put the information together. Paraphrasing means that you are gathering information by including all of the information and the ideas of your source and including them in your paper by rephrasing all of the information into your own words and your own work. The best way, and the most successful way, of paraphrasing, is to try and use as little information that you can from the information when adding it into your work, however, you will need to be sure that you do not change the meaning of it. Then, you cite your work, so whenever it is read and looked over, it does not be mistaken for any type of plagiarism.

Examples of Plagiarized Poems

There are so many different types of things that a person can use plagiarism in, however, one of the most plagiarized areas is poetry. There have been several incidents where individuals have either used many of the same words to create their own poems and some who have even copied the entire poem and put a different title name to it. Publishers and magazines have been trying their hardest to keep the plagiarism of poems down, and this takes a lot of work to do so. A man by the name of Charles O. Hartman had come to the realization that a man David R. Morgan had written a poem that was titled as "Dead Wife Singing" that was almost completely identical to his poem "A Little Song".

This incident made the individuals in the poetry community to step forward and begin researching and making themselves aware of the others out there that were plagiarizing. In 1981, they had found that David R. Morgan did not only copy Hartman's poem, he also copied a poem named "Empty Bottles" from a poem titled "Monkey's Stops Whistling" by a man named Colin Morton. There have been several individuals who have plagiarized and it is something that is very frowned upon, and for those individuals who choose to take on this act, they can suffer long-term consequences from it.

Avoiding Plagiarism  

When it comes to writing reports, essays, term papers, poetry, and so much more, it is always incredibly easy to find the information that is needed to write them. However, it is not easy to add the information in without falling into the act of plagiarism. There are many easy and beneficial ways to avoid falling into this trap, and they aren't hard to accomplish. There are several steps that can be taken to avoid plagiarism whenever you are adding in the information and they include:

  •  Paraphrasing the information that you have gathered
  •  Citing the information that you are using
  •  Quoting the information exactly the way it was written to avoid any misquoting
  •  Citing the quotes that you are choosing to use
  •  Citing your own material that you have used before in other materials
  •  Referencing, including a reference page, is one of the most important ways to avoid any plagiarism

 Another beneficial thing to do is to always check your work whenever you have finished, this way you can make sure to double check for any type of plagiarism that you may have fallen into. If you do not make sure to check your work, and there is a form of plagiarism found within your work, then it is highly possible for you to jeopardize your entire career.

How To Cite Sources  

Citing the information that you have gathered is an incredibly important part of avoiding plagiarism. The purpose of this is to let the audience, who is reading your work, know exactly who the author is of the information that you have given them. If you are wanting your work to get the proper credit, it is important to properly cite your work so you are able to show just how honest you are and the ability that you have to cite those sources. If you do not cite the sources you used, or you do not cite them properly even without knowing that you are citing them improperly, the consequences that you may suffer can be just as severe as if you had plagiarized intentionally. Therefore, making sure to cite sources that you have used, is important for yourself and for any future career that you may be hoping for.


In conclusion, whenever you are going to create a writing assignment or poetry, it is important to be sure that you follow the proper steps to avoid any type of plagiarism. Plagiarism has very serious consequences and can ruin your career or even your education. Taking the proper steps to avoid plagiarism is the only thing you can do to make sure that you work is honest and properly completed.

[n] the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own
[n] a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work

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