According to the Oxford Dictionaries Online, plagiarism is "the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own."* While plagiarism has long been an act of academic dishonesty, the advent of the Internet and seemingly unlimited access to electronic information resources has brought renewed interest in the concept of plagiarism.
It is important that we understand that it is wrong to copy other people's work and to present it as one's own work. It is equally wrong to use ideas and facts from other sources, and not to properly cite those sources. This is still plagiarism, even though no exact copying occurred. While one form of plagiarism is more intentional, the second form is still an act of academic dishonesty and must be avoided.
Students who plagiarize often do so because they are pressed for time, or they have not been organized with their research. Taking good notes and documenting the sources of valuable information and quotes is a good way to avoid plagiarism. In addition, working from outlines and solid rough drafts also ensures that a student is blending her/his voice with that of others.
*"Plagiarism." Oxford Dictionaries Online. 12 Dec. 2012. web. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com.