Plagiarism is using another person’s idea or information without properly acknowledging the source or reference. The human mind is constantly exposed to other people’s ideas and thoughts. It is quite unnatural to think and believe that your idea is entirely new since you do not live in isolation. The human mind, while forming an opinion, can recall ideas that it has read and heard. However if you actually start intellectual and academic writing, or even writing for fun, but fail to cite all the people and works that are your inspiration and have helped you formulate your thoughts then you are committing intellectual theft which is a serious crime!
Whether you copy a person’s ideas or even graphs, statistic, mere drawings from somewhere you need to properly cite the source. Even paraphrasing and changing a person’s ideas while copying them does not make your work plagiarism free unless you have given a reference to the author or the work! Nowadays internet is the most popular and by far the easiest place to find information relevant to your work. No matter what you are looking for you can easily find something of relevance over the World Wide Web. The internet is an open place. Anyone can gain access to any amount and source of information easily. This means that anyone and everyone’s work can be copied and used from the internet without difficult and mostly people would never even find out! But this doesn’t mean that the information on the web isn’t another person’s honest work. In this way global epidemic of content theft violates people’s rights and discourages the creation of new web content.
Just because it isn’t copied from a published work does not decrease the danger of plagiarism. Any kind of information can be plagiarized from the internet. While copying from any source we need to remember all that constitutes plagiarism. Even changing words in a sentence does not remove the danger of plagiarism; this means even if you have paraphrased or summarized a few lines from the internet for your own work, you can still be held guilty of intellectual theft.
Online plagiarism is especially common in college and university students. Although, at any given point, they have an access to every kind of books but those are difficult to browse. The internet helps you narrow down your search to a single word and find you appropriate and relevant sources. This makes it a great place to copy stuff off from! And since it is the internet no one can come claiming you stole their work since the chances of their finding out are so low. But it is a crime nonetheless and should be avoided at all costs. Nowadays there are ways of checking online plagiarism, like checkers and software that highlight copied stuff. Hence it is always safe to cite the source from which you have copied precious information for your work and analysis, or even thought process!