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Communication, Media, and Screen Studies

How to find books, journal articles, and other material for the field of Communication., Media, and Screen Studies

What is Plagiarism?

Definition of the word "plagiarize" from the American Heritage Dictionary:
"To reproduce or otherwise use (the words, ideas, or other work of another) as one's own or without attribution".

 Definition of the word "plagiarism" from the Oxford English Dictionary:
"The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft".

 Paragraph on plagiarism from the SCSU Student Handbook, 2013-2014:
"Plagiarism is using the words or ideas of another writer and presenting them as your own. It is a kind of academic theft, and is therefore dishonest. Once your name appears on an essay or term paper, you are stating that the ideas and language in the paper that are not attributed to another are entirely your own, and the reader assumes that these are your work. An obvious form of plagiarism is copying the exact words from your source without providing quotation marks and without giving credit to the source, usually in a footnote. A less obvious, but equally dishonest form of plagiarism is the changing of a few words (paraphrasing) or using of an author's original idea without properly introducing and documenting that change or usage. The ideas, interpretations, and words of an author belong to the author. They are the author's property. They are protected by law and they must be acknowledged whenever you borrow them". Academic Honesty, p. 96

Consequences of Plagiarism

Plagiarism - intentional or unintentional - constitutes academic dishonesty. Presenting someone else's ideas or work as one's own is equivalent to lying and is a breach of scholarly ethics which is often subject to serious consequences. Since students enrolled in college courses are continually engaged with other people's ideas through text books, lectures, class discussions, or other sources, it is very important to give credit where it is due to preserve intellectual honesty. All cases of academic dishonesty at SCSU will suffer immediate consequences which may include any of the following actions:


Written reprimand


Failure in the exam/course



(Student Handbook 2013-2014: Student Code of Conduct, p.116-118)

Tips on Avoiding Plagiarism

1. Begin your research early and do not procrastinate. When you are in a rush you may fail to include all the information needed to document the source or you may even fail to cite the source.

2. Keep careful notes. Jot down all the information you need to document your source. Photocopy the title and copyright pages of books that you use for your paper. Email journal citation records from databases to yourself so you have all the relevant information needed for citing.

3.You must always document any words or ideas that you have not thought up yourself. Outside sources include books, web sites, periodicals, databases, radio or television programs, films, plays or other performances, images, songs, interviews, speeches, lectures, letters and correspondence (including e-mail), videos, and government sources. Plagiarism could even occur with a word. For example, if you use the word "engayify" which means to gay it  up, and which Stephen Colbert coined, you should attribute it to him or you will be guilty of plagiarism.

4. If you are quoting word for word from someone make sure to enclose the quotation within quotation marks. Do not omit any word(s) from the quote.

5. When you paraphrase or summarize someone else's idea or work, make sure to include a citation to the original source.

6. Cite every source that you used in your paper in the works cited page.

7. Every source that you used in your list of references should be cited in your paper.

8. Information that is common knowledge need not be documented. Common knowledge is information that everyone knows such as widely known news events, famous people, geographical facts, familiar history, and cliches or common sayings. (Example:` Washington D.C is the capital of the United States). However, if you are not sure whether something is common knowledge or not, it is best to provide documentation. 

9. Get familiar with the citation style that your instructor requires. Click on the "Citing Sources" tab above for help with the commonly used citation styles.
Style manuals are available at Buley Library's reference desk.

10. When in doubt, check with your professor. He/she is the one that has assigned the paper and will know what's expected.

How Can I Tell if I'm Plagiarizing?

5 Types of Plagiarism

5 types of plagiarism