What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism occurs when you deliberately and knowingly use "someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source." -The Council of Writing Program Administrators
Outright plagiarism (knowingly copying the work or ideas of others without providing attribution) is a serious ethical transgression and an act of academic misconduct.
What students often struggle with, however, is not plagiarism so much as failing to properly cite sources and knowing how and when to quote, summarize, or paraphrase in their own original work.
Avoiding plagiarism is not the only reason to be diligent in how you use and credit the ideas of others. Citations allow the reader to locate original source material, evaluate independently, and follow the trail of ideas. This is how we build upon knowledge and situate our own thoughts within the broader discourse.