In the rare instance in which the original author said something so memorable and important that you don’t want to change a word, a direct quote would be appropriate. Otherwise, look at what the original author said, think about what your readers want to know about it, and put it in your own words. (And of course, don’t forget to cite a reference to the original.)
Request an iThenticate account from the library by emailing RML-Help@mdanderson.org . iThenticate is an online plagiarism checker.
It is a professional courtesy to ask the author’s permission to reprint published figures or text. Many authors do not retain the copyright of their published works, which means, from a legal perspective, the permission you need is from the publisher of the text. Many publishers use the Copyright Clearance Center or have an online form you can fill out. For journal articles, the link to this form may be on the same web page as the article itself. If not, from the journal or publisher’s home page, look for a menu option called “Rights and permissions,” “Permission to re-use content,” or something similar.
There’s no “magic” number of changes, but the changes should be substantial—if someone looking at the original version and your version side by side would think they are similar, you probably have not made enough changes. If you like an original figure or table, you can approach the copyright holder (and author, if the author is not the copyright holder) for permission to reprint the item as is or to publish an adapted version of the item.
Understanding Copyright in Publishing and Education
Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the creator of a work. If you use a copyrighted work without the owner's permission, you may be violating the owner's rights and subject to legal action. Similarly, authors must consider copyright when publishing manuscripts. Learn more about copyright in publishing and education here.