Many people plagiarize the work of others out of ignorance of the process of appropriate citation and attribution. This is totally unintentional with no attempt at cheating or deception.
They forget to write down the source, forget the quotation marks, or paraphrase the work.
They assume (wrongly) that this is “what you do when you write a paper.”
A good general practice is to recognize that if one writes three words in a row from a source it must be quoted and cited. Many writers feel that the use of quotation marks is indicative of academic attribution. Quotes should only serve to support or illustrate the writers point and not make the point for the reader.
Another source of consternation is the internet itself. Touted as the information highway cruising through the public domain, this ubiquitous resource is the bane of educators everywhere. How does a writer determine what is public domain, what is copyrighted, and what is common knowledge? Web addresses are like a moving target. Urls change, style guides are inconsistent in citation documentation, and the web is advertised as “the public domain.”
With patience, writers can learn how to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism.