Look Before You Write

Concerns About Plagiarism

While using and/or changing the openly licensed work of others might feel like plagiarism. It isn’t.

Merriam-Webster defines plagiarize as:

to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source[1]

Using material from an open textbook or other open educational resources (OER) and adding it to your own textbook is not considered plagiarism for the following reasons:

  1. You are not stealing because the original author has already given you (and everyone else) permission to use and change their work by releasing it with an open-copyright licence.
  2. You are not stealing or passing off the original author’s ideas or words as your own because you will give the original author credit for their work with an attribution statement. Giving credit to the creator of a work is a legal requirement if you want to use an openly licensed resource.

For more information, read the Permission to Adapt [New Tab] chapter in the BCcampus Open Education Adaptation Guide.


  1. "plagiarize," Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize (accessed August 8, 2017).

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Concerns About Plagiarism by Lauri Aesoph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.