Know when to document paraphrased ideas

The most common way to avoid outright plagiarism is to put the essence of another writer's ideas into one's own words without distorting their meaning. The process is called paraphrasing. Quotation marks are not necessary because the paraphrase does not quote the source word for word. However, paraphrased materials still should be credited, because the ideas are taken from someone else.

A major exception to this documentation occurs when the information that is being paraphrased is common knowledge in a field. Common knowledge means that the information is widely known and readily available, as for example in handbooks, manuals, atlases, or other references.

At the other end of the spectrum, for extensively borrowed material that is going to be published, reproduced, or distributed, citation is essential but may not be enough. You may also need to obtain written permission from the copyright holder.

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