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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

Avoiding Plagiarism: What Is Plagiarism?

Learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it.


Thank you to the instruction librarians at Radford University who gave permission to use their Avoiding Plagiarism guide as a template for this guide.

What Is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using someone else's work without giving him or her credit.  "Work" includes text, ideas, images, videos, and audio. In the academic world, you must follow these rules:

  • When you use the exact words, you must use quotation marks and provide a citation.
  • When you put the information into your own words, you must provide a citation. (See Paraphrasing tab.)
  • When you use an image, audio, or video created by someone else, you must provide a citation.

Plagiarism could happen with a sentence, a paragraph, or even just a word! For example, Stephen Colbert, of the television show "The Colbert Report," made up the word "truthiness," meaning something that sounds like it should be true.  If you say in a paper something has a ring of "truthiness"- you should cite Colbert.  If someone else's words catch your interest, you should cite them. 

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. Penalties can range from failing the assignment to being expelled from the University. See the Lehigh University Code of Conduct site  (Article III) for information on the University Student Conduct system and the expectations of Academic Integrity.

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