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Plagiarism is a serious problem.

A few years ago, Kaavya Viswanathan, a Harvard sophomore from Franklin Lakes, NJ, lost a contract with a publisher valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and, reportedly, a movie deal. She plagiarized the work of several authors, including Megan McCafferty and Salman Rushdie, in her widely publicized first novel "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life." Copies of her books were pulled from store shelves, she returned the money, and her reputation was severely tarnished.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose, Jayson Blair, 28 high school biology students in Kansas, 45 UVA students, and the president of Hamilton College, . . . so many examples of plagiarism have been pulled from the headlines in the past few years.

Blair Hornstine, a high school valedictorian in Camden, NJ made all too similar headlines when it was discovered that she had plagiarized several columns she wrote for the local newspaper. . . . The final result was that her admission to Harvard was rescinded. Following her Harvard rejection, Hornstine wrote an interesting article that spells out why proper citation is necessary. "Stories, Essays Lacked Attribution" is posted online at the "courierpostonline" Web site.

For lessons and links to a wide variety of information on plagiarism, especially how to avoid it, go to Plagiarism Workshop. A comic book, Bound by Law? posted by Duke Law School, explains the limits and responsibilities of copyright law for information users. Purdue University's OWL plagiarism handouts are available 24 / 7 to help you avoid plagiarism.

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