Plagiarism occurs when you borrow another's words (or ideas) and do not acknowledge that you have done so. In this culture, we consider our words and ideas intellectual property; like a car or any other possession, we believe our words belong to us and cannot be used without our permission.
Plagiarism is a very serious offense. If it is found that you have plagiarized -- deliberately or inadvertently -- you may face serious consequences. In some instances, plagiarism has meant that students have had to leave the institutions where they were studying.
The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources - both within the body of your paper and in a bibliography of sources you used at the end of your paper.
Some useful links about plagiarism:
Currency: the timeliness of the information (Score 1-10)
Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs (Score 1-10)
Authority: the source of the information (Score 1-10)
Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content (Score 1-10)
Purpose: the reason the information exists (Score 1-10)
By scoring each category on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = worst, 10 = best possible)
45-50 Excellent | 40 - 44 Good | 35 - 39 Average | 30 - 34 Borderline Acceptable | Below 30 - Unacceptable