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Plagiarism is a very serious problem whether you are a child or an adult. Often when people plagiarize they don't even realize they are doing it but the consequences are still the same. If you are caught plagiarizing the consequences can be very severe. The penalties range from getting a zero on the assignment and getting suspended from school. Some people have been rejected from colleges and ruined their career because they have plagiarized.
To plagiarize means to steal and use (the writing of another) as ones own. To be sure that you aren't plagiarizing you must cite all ideas and facts that are not your own. If you are using someone else's exact words you must put them in quotations. If you decide to use an authors idea but don't want to copy it word for word you must correctly paraphrase it. The only time when you do not have to cite your source is if you are writing about common knowledge or if you are writing about your own idea/experience.
To make sure you aren't plagiarizing you should make note cards and copy the information word for word. Next, you should write a rough draft and make sure you don't copy the note cards directly. You should also cite as you write so that you are never accused of plagiarism. In your final draft make sure you quoted what needs to be quoted and that you cited ALL of your sources.
A teacher can hold you accountable for plagiarism if you reuse a paper you have already written, if you copy somebody else's work(such as a classmates), or if you write a paper in a group and no group work was assigned. Other possibilities of plagiarism are if you buy a paper and pass it off as your own work, and if you decide not to cite your sources (not giving credit to someone that deserves it).
In conclusion, when writing a paper make sure you cite all of your sources. You may be plagiarizing without even knowing it. That is not a valid excuse when you get caught though, and won't get you out of trouble. The main point is to make sure you give credit where it is due.
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