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Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud, and offenders are subject to academic censure, up to and including expulsion. In journalism, plagiarism is considered a breach of journalistic ethics, and reporters caught plagiarizing typically face disciplinary measures ranging from suspension to termination of employment. Some individuals caught plagiarizing in academic or journalistic contexts claim that they plagiarized unintentionally, by failing to include quotations or give the appropriate citation. While plagiarism in scholarship and journalism has a centuries-old history, the development of the Internet, where articles appear as electronic text, has made the physical act of copying the work of others much easier.

Plagiarism is defined in multiple ways in higher education institutions and universities. To name a few: Stanford sees plagiarism as “use, without giving reasonable and appropriate credit to or acknowledging the author or source, of another person's original work, whether such work is made up of code, formulas, ideas, language, research, strategies, writing or other form”; [16] Yale views plagiarism as “the use of another’s work, words, or ideas without attribution” which included “using a source’s language without quoting, using information from a source without attribution, and paraphrasing a source in a form that stays too close to the original”; [17] Princeton perceives plagiarism as the deliberate use of “someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source”; [18] Oxford characterizes plagiarism as the use of “a writer's ideas or phraseology without giving due credit”; [19] and Brown explains plagiarism to be “appropriating another person's ideas or words (spoken or written) without attributing those word or ideas to their true source”. [20] As well-known institutions, they reflect a common academic definition of plagiarism. Lack of citation, giving credit, or attribution is considered to be plagiarism. In academics, committing plagiarism comes down to failing to cite sources.