How to Avoid Plagiarism and Copying?
It may not always be clear where honest work ends and cheating begins. You can probably tell the difference between studying with your classmates and copying someone else's work to turn in for an assignment. But working on assignments that will be assessed for marks may sometimes cross the line between what is proper and what is not.
When students collaborate on a project, all members of the team play a role in achieving the result, and their individual contribution can be documented. This is different from colluding with others to submit work that you pretend is your own to get marks you did not earn.
If you have any questions about whether group work is allowed, or how to submit it so that it is not considered cheating, ask your instructor.
Plagiarism is presenting work which is not your own and originates from other sources as if it is your own, without appropriate attribution to the sources.
For example, if you make a copy of an assignment done by a classmate and submit it as your own, you are guilty of plagiarism. If you pay someone else to write a paper for you, or get a friend to do it for free, you are guilty of plagiarism. These cases are obviously a form of cheating, since the intent is clearly to pass off someone else's work as your own.
As long as you identify where the information came from, you are not trying to pass off the work as your own. To make use of information you gather without being guilty of plagiarism, you must make sure that the sources are properly referenced.
There are many ways to reference sources properly. Your instructors may provide guidelines. Some useful advice can be found at Writing Guides and Manuals.
The easy access provided by the Internet to vast amounts of information has made plagiarism easier. Remember that plagiarism is a kind of theft of someone else's work, and a kind of fraud when you pretend that the work is your own.