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What is plagiarism? Why avoid it?

Plagiarism is when you do not properly acknowledge the source of the ideas or phrases in your essay as you should. Instead, other people’s ideas and words are passed off as your own.

Apart from the ethical problem plagiarism involves – it is a kind of theft – it can also disrupt your writing.

Usually, as well as copying, plagiarism involves adapting a text you have found, for example by taking isolated sentences, omitting words and phrases, and replacing some words with other words that seem to you to mean the same.

One typical consequence of local changes made in this way, however, is that the piece of text you end up producing is disjointed, sometimes becoming a passage that no longer makes sense because of the alterations you have introduced.

Alongside this loss of sense, too, the process of plagiarising has a further side effect: that the alterations imposed on the original usually jut out with painful obviousness from the other parts of the essay that you really wrote yourself.

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