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Plagiarism: Home

What it is and ways to avoid it, with exercises and examples

Academic Integrity vs Plagiarism

Plagiarism is academic dishonesty and a violation of the principles of Academic Integrity and the University's policy on Academic Honesty

To avoid committing plagiarism, you will need to know what it is and how to recognize it (see boxes below), how to cite your sources (see Citing Sources and Citations Styles tabs above), how to properly incorporate the works of others (sources) into your research paper (see Paraphrasing, Quoting, Summarizing tab above), and also practice with tutorials and exercises (see Additional Resources).

What is Plagiarism? Definitions

Plagiarism is the act of presenting someone else’s work, words, or ideas as your own.

More detailed definitions: 

“Simply put, plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property belonging to another.  This includes both the theft of unwritten ideas and concepts as well as the theft of written texts, notes, computer programs, designs, and/or visual materials" (Jones 4) .

"In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledg­ing its source.This definition applies to texts published in print or on-line, to manuscripts, and to the work of other student writers" (WPA).


Jones, Lars.   Academic Integrity & Academic Dishonesty:  A Handbook About Cheating & Plagiarism. 2011. Print/Web.  Recommended handbook on plagiarism for Florida Tech students and faculty.

WPA (The Council of Writing Program Administrators). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism:  The WPA Statement on Best Practices.

Consequences of Plagiarism are Serious

Plagiarism is a serious offense:

  • Considered a lack of academic integrity, academic dishonesty, academic fraud, intellectual theft, and cheating.

  • Results in a failing grade in an assignment/course.
  • May result in expulsion from university.
  • Devalues the university and the degree it offers.
  • Damages the reputation of university and its students.
  • Creates the impression of unfairness and not a level playing field for all students.
  • Gives the impression that students don’t care about themselves nor the university.
  • Gives professors the impression that students are lazy and not using their critical thinking skills.
  • Prevents students from the chance to interpret other people’s ideas or develop new ones.

Florida Tech's Plagiarism Examples

The  Florida Tech Student Handbook, under  the heading, Academic Honesty,  gives examples of plagiarism:

  • Handing in a past assignment or a document purchased from a term paper service or any other source.
  • Copying or taking someone else's paper or work and handing it in as your own.
  • Intentionally using an incorrect source in your references, bibliography or work cited page.
  • Appropriating passages or ideas from articles, books, or another person and using them without proper documentation.
  • Quoting a written source on an exam, paper or homework without citation when it is requested by the instructor to present one’s own work.

Causes of Plagiarism

According to the Council of Writing Program Administrators, these are some of the reasons why students plagiarize:

  • Fear of failure, or lack of confidence in their own writing.
  • Poor time management or procrastination.
  • Course, assignment, conventions of academic documentation not considered important.
  • Wanting to get a better grade
  • Not serious about consequences of cheating.
  • Lack of research, writing, and documentation skills
  • Ready access to full-text articles and books through the Internet.
  • Don't know when and how to cite sources.
  • Don't know how to integrate other's ideas or words in their own work and cite those sources properly.
  • Not understanding the western concept that ideas and written expressions of ideas can be owned (intellectual property).
  • Don't know how to take careful and fully documented notes during their research.

Turnitin's 10 Types of Plagiarism

See Turnitin's, “The Plagiarism Spectrum” at:

Some Instances of Plagiarism

8 hilarious instances of plagiarism by Lauren Hansen of THE WEEK:

Know the Rules: Florida Tech Resources & Policies on Plagiarism

- Provides the University's  definition of Academic Honesty, including plagiarism and academic cheating, and procedures for handling violations.  Located under the tab, Standards and Policies.
- Provides definitions and discussions of the most common types of academic dishonesty, with a focus on plagiarism.
- Plagiarism is listed as a violation under the heading, Code of Conduct/Grounds for Disciplinary Action/Academic Dishonesty.

Class Syllabus - includes the class policy on plagiarism. 

Florida Tech uses the following to detect plagiarism in students' assignments:
Turnitin - a plagiarism detection software licensed by Florida Tech
Google - use to look for specific sentences from student's work
Summon - use to search library databases for sentences or citations from student's work

Other Helpful Research Guides

Research Ethics - laws and rules surrounding reuse of information

Copyright Research Guide - addresses most copyright issues

Copyright on Campus  - includes Florida Tech's guidelines

Academic Integrity at Florida Tech (You Tube Videos)

What Needs to be Cited?

From: Harris, Robert A. The Plagiarism Handbook. Los Angeles: Pyrczk Publishing, 2001.

Even if you are using your own words to paraphrase or summarize a source, you still need to cite it since it was originally someone else's idea or words.

Avoid Plagiarism, Document Your Sources Properly

  • Document your research process: take good notes (highlight and organize important material) and keep in one place/folder all notes, sources, summaries, drafts, etc.
  • Track citations right from the start of your research process and as you go.
  • Use a citation management software like RefWorks or Mendeley to help manage your citations.
  • Properly cite your references using the recommended citation style to give credit to the owners of that information and to maintain consistency.
  • All sources, even creative commons, open access, non copyright, among other,  must be properly cited, unless it is common knowledge.
  • If you are not sure something is common knowledge, cite it anyway. 
  • When in doubt, cite the source!

Why Cite?

  • To distinguish between what is yours and those of others. So, don't cite your opinions, ideas, thoughts, interpretations, judgements, personal experiment, personal observation, commentary, analysis, argument, rarrative, description, designs, figures, images, etc...anything that you originated.
  • To acknowledge someone else's work and ideas.
  • To let others know that these are not your words (if you disagree with them).
  • To receive credit for the work you have done (shows off your research and writing skills).
  • To provide your readers with specific information (author, title, publication date and publisher, volume, issue and page numbers) to verify your sources or pursue a topic further.

Free Plagiarism Checker

“The most cardinal rule of any speech-writing operation is that you cannot plagiarize. If you do, you lose your job.”  Matt Latimer, White House speechwriter for George W. Bush.

Plagiarism Practice Exercises & Examples

Academic Integrity & Academic Dishonesty: A Handbook about Cheating & Plagiarism, Revised & Expanded Edition  by Dr. Lars Jones, Florida Tech
 - shows examples of plagiarism, including improper citing and paraphrasing.

How to recognize Plagiarism   - Examples courtesy of Indiana University Bloomington School of Education

Plagiarism test from Indiana University (

Documenting Your Research & Plagiarism Game

Plagiarism Quiz - Acceptable Use or Not?    - University of Southern Mississippi

See Additional Resources tab at the top for more resources.


Patterns of Plagiarism

Examples: Patterns of Plagiarism (from Indiana University Bloomington)

Below are 15 patterns of plagiarism, followed by 3 patterns of non-plagiarism. Click on each pattern name to see a prototypical example.

Key: wfw=word-for-word plagiarism; para=paraphrasing plagiarism

  1. Clueless Quote: wfw because no quotes, no citation, no reference
  2. Crafty Cover-up: proper paraphrase but wfw also present
  3. Cunning Cover-up: para because no citation, no reference
  4. Deceptive Dupe: wfw because no quotes, no citation, but has reference
  5. Delinked Dupe: wfw because no reference, even though quotes and citation
  6. Devious Dupe: correct quote but wfw also present
  7. Dippy Dupe: wfw because quotes missing, even though full citation and reference
  8. Disguised Dupe: looks like proper para, but actually wfw because no quotes, no locator
  9. Double Trouble: both wfw and para, although has reference
  10. Linkless Loser: wfw because citation and reference lacking, although has quotes and locator
  11. Lost Locator: wfw because missing locator, although has quotes, citation, and reference
  12. Placeless Paraphrase: para because no reference, although citation present
  13. Severed Cite: para because reference but no citation
  14. Shirking Cite: wfw because lacks locator and reference, although quotes and citation present
  15. Triple D--Disguised Disconnected Dupe: wfw--looks like proper para, but no quotes, no reference, no locator

Examples: Patterns of Non-Plagiarism

  1. Correct Quote: takes another's words verbatim and acknowledges with quotation marks, full in-text citation with locator, and reference
  2. Proper Paraphrase: summarizes another's words and acknowledges with in-text citation and reference
  3. Parroted Paraphrase: appears to be paraphrasing, and technically may not be plagiarism.  A parroted paraphrase gives the appearance of paraphrasing by rewriting of another author's ideas through substitution of synonyms and by other minor editing, while maintaining the overall structure of the source.