What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is presenting someone else's words, knowledge, or ideas as though they were your own.
However, information considered to be "common knowledge" does not need to have its source documented.
- Quoting someone else's exact words without documenting the source.
- Modifying someone else's words without documenting the source.
- Presenting someone else's idea without documenting the source.
- Presenting information that falls outside of "common knowledge" without documenting the source.
The book "The Aztecs: Gods and Fate in Ancient Mexico" by Cottie Burland and Werner Forman contains the following sentence: "Diseases were thought of as small, insect-like spirits, that were sent among the people for one reason or another, usually by the gods." (p. 32)
If source information is not provided, all of the following are examples of plagiarism:
- Diseases were thought of as small, insect-like spirits, that were sent among the people for one reason or another, usually by the gods. This is a word-for-word copy of the original. The student should place quote marks around the sentence and document the source of this quote.
- The Aztecs thought diseases were small, insect-like spirits that were sent among the people for a reason. The gods were frequently believed to have sent these spirits. Although not a word-for-word copy, it is obviously just a rewording of the original.
- Modern humans know that diseases can be scientifically explained. However, ancient peoples, such as the Aztecs, believed that diseases were caused by tiny spirits. This is not a case of copying words, but of copying knowledge. The Aztecs' belief that tiny spirits caused diseases is not usually considered to be "common knowledge". The student should document the source of this information.