In academic writing, any time you use a work's information or ideas, credit must be given to your source. The only exception to this rule is that commonly known facts do not require attribution. Plagiarism includes not only the presentation of other's original ideas as your own, but the act of weakly paraphrasing another's writing style and passing it off as your own prose.
Plagiarism is a serious instance of misconduct; several professional careers have been ruined by the discovery of an act of plagiarism. Publishers of discovered works of plagiarism may withdraw or otherwise disavow them, as well as hold the infringing author liable. In most colleges and universities, professors impose penalties on students who plagiarize the works of others. Students caught plagiarizing face expulsion.
With the growth of Web content and paper mills moving online, concerns over plagiarism have persisted. Librarians can educate users about the proper citation formats, how to avoid plagiarism, and academic honesty in general.
Librarians have also been called upon to help detect plagiarism. Search engine queries of a suspicious document's statistically improbably phrases may obtain evidence of plagiarism. Drastic changes in writing style or an author's unfamiliarity with the subjects of their supposed writing are also red flags.
Some organizations have created repositories of students' work as a further base of comparison for deterring and determining plagiarism. As with the practice of dissertation authors surrendering limited rights to their work to commercial content providers (namely ProQuest), few students have complained about donating their intellectual property to companies for this purpose.
In 2004, a Canadian student successfully appealed to the senate committee at McGill University after refusing to submit his papers to Turnitin.com. And in 2005, another Canadian students' union (at Mount Saint Vincent University) protested the use of Turnitin.com on campus. Use of the program was banned in 2006.