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What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of copying the work of another and representing it as your own. Some common forms of plagiarism include copying from the Internet, a friend's homework, or a book or magazine without giving credit to the author.

It is OK to copy when:

  • A new artist copies another artist’s work when first learning to draw.
  • A child copies a sentence while learning to write.
  • A traditional story is passed down in writing from one generation to the next and the author is unknown.

In some cultures, copying someone else's writing without giving credit to the author is sometimes acceptable. For a college student in the USA, however, copying without citing the source is NOT an acceptable practice.

Copying is plagiarism when:

  • Anyone copies parts or all of someone else’s concept, artwork, or design and uses it as their own without citing the source.
  • Anyone copies all or part of a newspaper article, book, magazine, essay or any other writing, and presents it as his/her own writing without giving credit to the writer.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense!
You can lose all credit for an assignment and face other disciplinary action for plagiarizing. See Liberal Arts Guidelines for Evaluation of Online Written Work for more information on plagiarism and the Academy of Art University's official policy regarding it.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Cite your Sources

  • Cite quotations and borrowed ideas. To cite something you need to tell the reader where you found the quote. You need to be aware of, and use, the special Modern Language Association (MLA) rules for citing sources. View this page for some examples of in-text MLA citations.

  • Students are encouraged to use A Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker for help with MLA style, revision, punctuation and sentence style.

  • Enclose borrowed language in quotation marks ( “ “ ). And don’t forget to cite the source

In his book, Jim Gardner describes the statue as being “the absolutely best representation of the human figure known to art historians” (94).

You can avoid plagiarizing somebody else's work by paraphrasing, or rewriting their ideas in your own words. You can also summarize, or briefly explain the main ideas of the author's work in your own words. Remember that you will still need to cite your sources. View this page for more information on Paraphrasing and Summarizing. Below are some examples of various ways to put an author's writing into your own words:

Changing the word order:
Original Text
Many of Bonny Dagger's designs have influenced everything from fashion merchandising to the world of architecture. Her characteristic circles have become a sort of cultural icon the nation over.

Changed Example:
Bonny Dagger's popular circle shapes have been a big influence on styles in architecture, fashion, and more (Davis 40).

Changing the word form:
Original Text:
Many of Bonny Dagger's designs have influenced everything from fashion merchandising to the world of architecture. Her characteristic circles have become a sort of cultural icon the nation over.

Reworded Example:
The circular designs of Bonny Dagger have been influential in fields like fashion merchandising and architecture. They have become icons all over the nation (Smith et al. 876).

Using different words with similar meanings. A THESAURUS is a good reference book to use for this:
Original Text:
Ms. Madunna's films marked the end of a tantalizing era of novel, silent classics. Her stylized moods meshed with the interesting character of each of her films.

Reworded Example:
Katy Madunna's movies were the last in an era of popular, silent films. Madunna's acting style matched each of her unique movies (Peters and Rafael 342).

Works Cited
The examples of text above were actually created for this site and not taken from original texts so a list of works cited is not included here. For an example of a "works cited" list see Examples of MLA Citations.