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What is Plagiarism?

Below is the definition of plagiarism as it appears in the Rasmussen University course catalog and syllabi:

Plagiarism is the act of representing an individual's or organization's words, thoughts, or ideas as one's own. 

Examples of plagiarism include:

  1. Using information (a paraphrase or quotation, in whole or in part) from a source without attempting to give credit to the author of that source.
  2. Using charts, illustrations, images, figures, equations, etc., without citing the source.
  3. Using an academic exercise (in whole or in part) purchased or copied from a ghostwriter or paper/essay mill.
  4. Copyright infringement or piracy, including the use, alteration, or duplication of media, software, code, or information when expressly prohibited or where copyright exists or is implied.


One common form of plagiarism occurs when students do not cite information discussed in an assignment. If it is new information, including information discussed in a discussion forum, the source needs to be cited.  

Example: You have an assignment that you give your thoughts on a provided case study. As you are explaining the case study, you would need to cite the case study in the in-text citation as well as in the reference page.  You are giving information that you did not know prior to writing the assignment.

Note: To ensure you are not plagiarizing, always cite (document) your sources when you refer to information you learned during your research or study.  Even if you've summarized the information or rephrased it into your own words, you still need to cite the source of the information.

Remember the basic rule of plagiarism: if you use, mention, refer to, quote, summarize, paraphrase, describe...someone's else's ideas or facts, other than your own, you must cite them.  There is the whole area of "common knowledge," for example: the United States has 50 states, which you do not have to cite.