For instructors seeking a key statement on definitions and avoidance on plagiarism, see Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices.
There are some actions that can almost unquestionably be labeled plagiarism.
Some of these include buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper (including, of course, copying an entire paper or article from the Web); hiring someone to write your paper for you; and copying large sections of text from a source without quotation marks or proper citation.
But then there are actions that are usually in more of a gray area.
Some of these include using the words of a source too closely when paraphrasing (where quotation marks should have been used) or building on someone's ideas without citing their spoken or written work.
Contributors: Karl Stolley, Allen Brizee, Joshua M. Summary: There are few intellectual offenses more serious than plagiarism in academic and professional contexts.