The theft of ideas (such as the plots of narrative or dramatic works) or of written passages or works, where these are passed off as one's own work without acknowledgement of their true origin; or a piece of writing thus stolen. Plagiarism is not always easily separable from imitation, adaptation, or pastiche , but is usually distinguished by its dishonest intention.
"plagiarism" The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press (emphasis mine).
"Submitting a written document (homework, term paper, research findings, publication, etc.) that in part or in whole is not one’s own work, whether it be a quotation, an opinion, an idea obtained through conversation or reading, a fact, or research findings, without giving proper attribution through a citation specifying the source of the information."
(Graduate Student Handbook, 2014-2015; p.49)
"the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material"
"copyright" The Oxford Dictionary of English. 2015. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.
“If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism;
if you steal from many, it's research."
Wilson Mizner, 1876–1933
Of course American Playwright Mizner was only joking. Acknowledging the sources of your ideas and citing the works of other writers are actually important aspects of academic writing. They help you to
It is right to give credit to authors whose ideas you use, just as you would expect others to give credit to your ideas.
Adapted from Bowman (2009) and Valenza (2004)
You should provide citations when:
1) You use an idea that has already been expressed by someone else (even ideas transmitted informally).
2) You refer to the work of another person.
3) You quote the work of someone else.
You need not cite:
1) When discussing your own experiences, observations, or reactions.
2) When compiling the results of original research, experiments, etc.
3) Facts or information that are widely known, or common knowledge.