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6.17: Plagiarism

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    Overview of Plagiarism

    According to, plagiarism is defined as the act of passing off as one's own the ideas or writings of another.

    The Council of Writing Program Administrators' definition for plagiarism: In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else's language, ideas, or other original (not commonly-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.[1]

    There are three conventions in writing for situations where you must provide reference.

    • When you use someone else's ideas, such as the above definitions of plagiarism, cite them.
    • When the way in which you are using a source is unclear to the reader, make it clear.
    • Acknowledge any help you receive from someone on writing the paper.

    Citing your sources is easy; do it and save yourself from getting in a lot of trouble.

    Examples of Plagiarism

    The following is adapted from Diana Hacker's A Pocket Style Manual.[2]

    Your research paper is a collaboration between you and your sources. To be fair and ethical, you must acknowledge your debt to the writers of those sources. If you don't, you are guilty of plagiarism, a serious academic offense. Three different acts are considered plagiarism:
    • failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas,
    • failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and
    • failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words.

    If you wrote something in your paper such as this:

    When writing a research paper it is important to acknowledge your debt to the writers of those sources. It is a collaboration between you and your sources. Failure to not acknowledge your sources is an act of plagiarism.

    and did not put any reference to Hacker, it would be plagiarism. A proper way to use the work would be this:

    Diana Hacker stresses how important it is "to acknowledge your debt to the writers" of sources you use in your writing. She states that your paper "is a collaboration between you and your sources". "failure to not acknowledge your sources is an act of plagiarism" (Hacker 115).

    It is also important to not only cite your sources in your work but also include a detailed reference to the work at the end of your paper on the works cited page. An example for the previous source is below:

    Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004.

    Rules to Help You Avoid Plagiarism

    The following rules are taken from Rosen, Leonard. The Academic Writer's Handbook: Instructor's Copy. 2006, pages 122–124.

    • When quoting another writer, use quotation marks and give credit.
    • When restating the ideas of others in your words, give credit.
    • Avoid using words, phrases, or sentence structures from the original source.


    Patchwriting means taking another person's words and sentences and reworking them, changing words or phrases here and there, to make it appear that the writing is your own. Patchwriting is academically dishonest and should not be done. Sometimes, students patchwrite even if they don't mean to. But whether it was intentional or not, the offense is still an offense. It's important to summarize and paraphrase carefully to avoid patchwriting and plagiarism. A paraphrase uses parallel keywords to restate both the implicit and explicit claims and evidence of the author. Writers need to include citations with paraphrases because the information in the paraphrase is not the writer’s original thought.


    1. Johnson-Sheehan, Richard and Charles Paine. Writing Today. Custom Edition for St. Cloud State University. Boston: Pearson Education, 2013.
    2. Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004. 115.
    3. Johnson-Sheehan, Richard and Charles Paine. Custom Ediction for St. Cloud State University. Boston: Pearson Education, 2013.

    6.17: Plagiarism is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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