Plagiarism is the use of someone else's ideas without proper credit. Whenever your writing summarizes, paraphrases, or quotes someone else's work or whenever you use statistics or facts without giving their source, you have fallen into plagiarism. Often plagiarism is unintentional, resulting from a lack of understanding of how to honestly and accurately give credit to the sources you use.
Citations to sources may be included in the text, in footnotes, and/or in a bibliography. Sources do not have to be cited for 'common knowledge' - that is, for factual information readily available, for proverbs or common sayings, or for your own observations and experiences.
The most common form of plagiarism is to adapt another person's text, changing a few words or the sentence structure, and failing to give credit to the underlying source. For more information on plagiarism and examples of fair and unfair use of another's material, follow the link in the box to the right.