The issue of plagiarism is very common is schools and institutions of learning in a huge way. However, some words are used on behalf of plagiarism that has a different meaning. These words include copying and borrowing. They have in one way or another reduced the seriousness that comes with plagiarism. Plagiarism is stealing or using other people's other people’s ideas, thoughts and energy and lying about it by either presenting the same to an academic institution for awarding. This does not, however, mean that students cannot use other people’s works to build knowledge. It is critical to making sure that you cite any other peoples work in your assignments. This will help the tutor to know what other ideas have you borrowed from elsewhere and your new ideas that you have reasoned and come up with. The importance is to show that you understand the material you are reading and can couple it up with new original ideas you develop through the reading. Citing means that you can use past information to support a new idea you have come up with.

Common knowledge and paraphrasing

The other significant issue of plagiarism is referring to information as common knowledge. These are the things that you expect everyone to k now about. However, especially for academic purposes, you do a paper so as to learn more. The issue of common knowledge does not, therefore, apply. Every time you find any information and you think that it is common knowledge, take some time and ask yourself if you knew of the information before you saw it on that source. Did you have such information in your head? Any time you feel that the answer to the above questions is ‘no,' then know that you are not dealing with common knowledge. Another major issue is when you paraphrase other people's work. It is fine if you paraphrase and give credit to the original author of the work by citing.

Avoiding Plagiarism

The first way to avoid plagiarism, especially when paraphrasing is to read through the work and make notes of points that you pick. Then build on these points using your wording. For you to get it right, you have to be a good reader and have good note-taking skills. This does not only help you write plagiarism free papers, but also assist you to improve the critical thinking skills. Even if you take good note and paraphrase a hundred percent, you will not have avoided plagiarism if you do not change your attitude towards citing. Enough citations do not mean that your work is copied.