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According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "plagiarism" means:
"An act of copying the ideas or words of another person without giving credit to that person."
One of the main reasons to cite is to avoid plagiarism. Citing your sources is a standard academic practice that allows the reader to find the sources you used to write your paper. It gives credit to other researchers and acknowledges their ideas. It provides supporting evidence for your work and increases your credibility.
The key to avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where it is due. This may be credit for something somebody said, wrote, emailed, drew, or implied. Students sometimes forget exactly what needs to be credited. Here is a brief list of what needs to be credited or documented:
Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium
Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing
When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase
When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials
When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media
There are several types of plagiarism ranging from direct plagiarism to copyright infringement. Here is a short list of tips to help you stay honest in your work.
Don't procrastinate with your research and assignments.
Commit to doing your own work.
Take careful notes, and collect citation information as you collect your sources.
Use quotations and paraphrasing when absolutely necessary.