Plagiarism is when you copy someone's work and try to pass it off as your own. Plagiarism can be a violation of copyright laws and can be considered cheating, resulting in you getting a failing grade or even being kicked out of school. Students can plagiarize, but so can anyone who submits any type of writing.
Here are some examples of plagiarism:
Plagiarism does not have to be word-for-word plagiarism either. If you copy someone's ideas, paraphrase or simply change the words of existing text, you must provide proper attribution for the source of the ideas.
For example, consider this original passage:
The legal system is made up of civil courts, criminal courts and specialty courts such as family law courts and bankruptcy court. Each court has its own jurisdiction, which refers to the cases that the court is allowed to hear. In some instances, a case can only be heard in one type of court. For example, a bankruptcy case must be heard in a bankruptcy court. In other instances, there may be several potential courts with jurisdiction. For example, a federal criminal court and a state criminal court would each have jurisdiction over a crime that is a federal drug offense but that is also an offense on the state level.
If someone paraphrased or simply changed the words, as follows, this would be an example of plagiarism:
The legal system is comprised of criminal and civil courts and specialty courts like bankruptcy and family law courts. Every one of the courts is vested with its own jurisdiction. Jurisdiction means the types of cases each court is permitted to rule on. Sometimes, only one type of court can hear a particular case. For instance, bankruptcy cases an be ruled on only in bankruptcy court. In other situations, it is possible for more than one court to have jurisdiction. For instance, both a state and federal criminal court could have authority over a criminal case that is illegal under federal and state drug laws.
The ideas are substantially similar and the second paragraph could be considered plagiarism of the first.