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What is plagiarism ?. ( And why you should care !). Definition:. Plagiarism is “the act of presenting the words, ideas, images, sounds, or the creative expression of others as your own .”. How serious is the problem?.

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what is plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

(And why you should care!)


Plagiarism is “the act of presenting the words, ideas, images, sounds, or the creative expression of others as your own.”

how serious is the problem
How serious is the problem?

“A study of almost 4,500 students at 25 schools, suggests cheating is . . . a significant problem in high school . 74% of the respondents admitted to one or more instances of serious test cheating and 72% admitted to serious cheating on written assignments.Over half of the students admitted they have engaged in some level of plagiarism on written assignments using the Internet.”

Source: “CIA Research.” Center for Academic Integrity, Duke University, 2003 http://academicintegrity.org/cai_research.asp.

students if

You have



  • You have included the words and ideas of others in your work that you neglected to cite
  • You have had help you wouldn’t want your teacher to know about
two types of plagiarism

Copying a friend’s work

Buying or borrowing papers

Cutting and pasting blocks of text from electronic sources without documenting

Media “borrowing” without documentation


Careless paraphrasing

Poor documentation

Quoting excessively

Failure to use your own “voice”

Two types of plagiarism:
rationale for academic integrity as if it were necessary
Rationale for academic integrity(as if it were necessary!)

Is your academic

reputation valuable

to you?

  • When you copy you cheat yourself. You limit your own learning.
  • The consequences are not worth the risks!
  • It is only right to give credit to authors whose ideas you use.
  • Education is not an “us vs. them” game! It’s about learning to learn!
real life consequences
Real life consequences:
  • Damaged the reputation of two prominent historians, Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
    • Kearns left television position and stepped down as Pulitzer Prize judge for “lifting” 50 passages for her 1987 book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (Lewis).
  • Senator Joseph Biden dropped his 1987 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination (Sabato).
    • Copied in law school and borrowed from campaign speeches of Robert Kennedy.
  • Probe of plagiarism at UVA--45 students dismissed, 3 graduate degrees revoked.
consequences cont d
Consequences (cont’d)
  • New York Times senior reporter Jayson Blair forced to resign after being accused of plagiarism and fraud.
  • Controversial New Jersey valedictorian denied her seat as a Harvard freshman when it discovered she plagiarized in a local newspaper.

“New York Times Exposes Fraud of Own Reporter.” ABC News Online. 12 May, 2003.


possible school consequences
Possible school consequences:
  • N0 credit for assignment!
  • Parent notification!
  • Referral to administrators!
  • Note on student record!
  • Unsatisfactory citizenship!

Is it worth

the risk?

is this important
Is this important?
  • What if…
    • Your architect cheated his way through math class. Would your new home be safe?
    • Your lawyer paid for a copy of the bar exam to study. Will the contract she wrote for you stand up in court?
    • The accountant who does your taxes hired someone to write his papers and paid a stand-in to take his major tests? Does he know enough to complete your parents’ tax forms properly?

(Lathrop and Foss 87)


Do I have

to cite


examples of common knowledge
Examples of common knowledge
  • John Adams was our second president
  • The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

If you see a fact in three or more sources, and you are fairly certain your readers already know this information, it is likely to be “common knowledge.”

But when in doubt, cite!

no need to document when
No need to document when:
  • You are discussing your own experiences, observations, or reactions
  • Compiling the results of original research, from science experiments, etc.
  • You are using common knowledge
what exactly is plagiarism
What exactly is plagiarism?
  • From Webster's Third New International Dictionary:

Plagiarize: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (a created production) without crediting the source vi: to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

in the real world this means
In the real world, this means…
  • Using another person's words without giving them credit.
  • Using another person’s ideas without giving them credit.
  • Using another person’s research, results, diagrams, or images without giving them credit.
evil acts of plagiarism
Evil Acts of Plagiarism…
  • Buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper
  • Copying from another source without citing
  • Building on someone else’s ideas without citation
  • Using the source too closely when paraphrasing

Deliberate Plagiarism

Maybe Accidental Plagiarism

identifying plagiarism
Original Source:

If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists (Davis 26).

Student’s Paper:

The existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, and was also startling news for animal behaviorists.

Identifying Plagiarism

Is this plagiarism?

verdict plagiarism
Verdict: Plagiarism

The student should have used quotation marks around the words that he copied directly from the original source such as “unsettled” and “startled” and “signing ape”.

Also, there is no parenthetical reference with the page number of the source statement.

identifying plagiarism1
Original Source:

If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists (Davis 26).

Student’s Paper:

The existence of a signing ape unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists  (Davis 26).

Identifying plagiarism

Is this plagiarism?

verdict plagiarism1
Verdict: Plagiarism

Even though the writer has cited the source, the writer’s words are not his own. Look at how closely the phrase "unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists"  resembles the wording of the source.


Identifying Plagiarism

Is this plagiarism?

  • Original Source:

If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists (Davis 26).

  • Student’s Paper:

If the presence of a sign-language-using chimp was disturbing for scientists  studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior  (Davis 26).


Verdict: Still Plagiarism

Even though the writer has substituted synonyms and cited the source, the writer is plagiarizing because the source's sentence structure is  unchanged. It is obvious that the writer could not have written his sentence without a copy of the source directly in front of him.

identifying plagiarism2
Original Source:

If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists (Davis 26).

Student’s Paper:

According to Flora Davis, linguists and animal behaviorists were unprepared for  the news that a chimp could communicate with its trainers through sign language  (Davis, 26).

Identifying plagiarism

Is this plagiarism?

verdict not plagiarism
Verdict: Not Plagiarism

The student has cited the source, and appropriately paraphrased the original source into his own words.

strategies to avoid plagiarism
Strategies to avoid plagiarism
  • Do not look at your resource while taking your
  • notes. Turn the resource face down and take
  • notes in your own words.
  • Know how to quote, cite, and paraphrase.
  • When in doubt, ask your teacher.
  • Do your own work and don’t fall behind!
practice good research methods
Practice good research methods
  • Be careful about paraphrasing while taking notes
  • Be sure to keep track of each source you use
  • Indicate in your notes which ideas are taken from sources (S) and which are your own insights (ME)
  • Record all of the relevant bibliography information in your notes
know how to quote
Know how to quote
  • Mention the name of the quoted person in your text
  • Put quotation marks around the text you are quoting
  • Use brackets ([ ]) and ellipses ( … )
  • Use block quotes when necessary
  • Quote sparingly
cite your sources
Cite your sources
  • Why should you cite your sources?
    • Citations show you have done research
    • As a courtesy to your reader
    • Your arguments become stronger when you can back them up
    • Ensures others receive fair credit for their work
citing internet sources
Citing Internet Sources
  • Material on the Internet is not “free.” It still needs to be cited.
  • Don’t avoid citing Internet sources and articles from electronic databases just because you don’t know how.
know when to cite
Know when to cite
  • Always give a citation for quoted words or phrases.
  • Always give a citation after paraphrased sentences.
  • Always give a citation for specific statistics, percentages, and numbers given in your text.
is it common knowledge
Is it common knowledge?

Facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be known by a lot of people do not need to be cited.

Consider your audience when deciding whether a fact is common knowledge.

Example of common knowledge:

John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States in 1960.

know how to paraphrase
Know how to paraphrase
  • Paraphrasing means putting an idea into your own words.
  • Don’t just rearrange the sentences or replace a few words.
  • Be able to summarize the original source without having it in front of you.
effective paraphrasing
Effective paraphrasing
  • Introduce your source at the point you begin paraphrasing the ideas of the other writer.
  • Cite your source in parentheses where you finish paraphrasing the source and resume presenting your own ideas.
effective paraphrasing1
Effective paraphrasing
  • Read the original passage until you understand its meaning
  • Set the book aside.
  • Write your paraphrase on note cards or a sheet of paper.
  • Compare your paraphrase with the original to make sure that the essential information is preserved.
  • Use quotation marks to identify any unique term or phrase you have borrowed exactly from the source
  • Document your sources (include page numbers) on your note cards so you caneasily cite later.  
some slides are courtesy of springfield school district oreland pa
Some slides are courtesy of Springfield School District, Oreland, Pa.