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Don't even think about it.

If you pretend to have done work that you did not do, that is a type of lying. If you pretend that you wrote something that was written by someone else, then you have not only lied about what you have done, but you have also stolen the work from its real author. Using another person's words or ideas in your written work without acknowledgement is called "plagiarism".

A simple test of whether something is plagiarism is to ask yourself: Would someone reading this work think that you created something that was really created by another person? If they would, then this is plagiarism. It doesn't matter how small it is. If you take a sentence from a book, and include it in your paper, you must say so, or you may be accused of plagiarism.

Anyone who is caught committing plagiarism - or any other act of academic dishonesty - may be punished by their instructor or college. This could mean a failing grade, academic probation, or even expulsion from school.

Keep in mind that any use of any source must be acknowledged - that is, if you use a source, you must say that you are using it. There are virtually no exceptions to this rule. For more information about this, you should take a look at some of the books we have recommended on the Style Manuals Page.

Why do American colleges care so much about plagiarism? One idea that is very important in American education is that you learn not only facts, but skills. Skills are learned by using them - by doing your own work. You don't become a great athelete by having someone else do your running for you!

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