Preventing Plagiarism:

Study Guide for Plagiarism Quiz


1.       Plagiarism Defined

Understand that there are many caveats to plagiarism, some not so obvious to students, perhaps. Plagiarism is defined as…

®     Submitting a paper that has been written by another writer.

®     Appropriating the words of another writer as if it were your own, without enclosing the words of others in quotation marks. Whether a phrase, a sentence or two, or a full paragraph, taking the words of another without giving credit is plagiarism.

®     Paraphrasing material without giving the source of information. Any time you do not give another writer credit for her/his ideas, you have plagiarized.

®     “Falsely paraphrasing”: a student only changes some of the words but the language is still too close to the original. See tips below on accurately paraphrasing another’s work/idea, in which case you must still provide parenthetical documentation. Also, visit Indian University for models of correct and incorrect paraphrasing:

®     Copying from the Internet, from a web page, or from another person/writer without giving credit. Materials on the internet are not “up for grabs.”

®     Using the ideas of another without using footnotes and other citations to give the original source credit.

®     Collaborating excessively with another person, tutor, student, friend, former teacher…anyone.


·         A note on excessive collaboration:  this is one form of plagiarism that scares students the most. They worry that meeting with a tutor in the Writing Center or having a peer review their papers during class workshop will be considered excessive collaboration. This type of assistance in writing is not the same as excessive collaboration, however. This form of plagiarism occurs when someone helps you literally write sentences, construct paragraphs, and/or copyedits the paper for you, correcting all your grammatical, spelling, and mechanical errors.


·         Remember, plagiarism is applied to ideas as well as writing; it also applies to texts in all forms: art, music, diagrams and data (or any kind of research and statistics), figures, plays, films, speeches, websites, etc.


·         Unintentional plagiarism is plagiarism nonetheless. Students caught in the act of plagiarizing often claim not to have known they plagiarized: “I was unconsciously influenced by this other writer’s work,” some might say, or “I didn’t mean to plagiarize that work…” It is not the professor’s job to uncover a student’s true motives in plagiarizing. That would be impossible to confirm on a case-by-case basis. Prevention, education, and commitment to academic integrity on all levels are the keys to avoiding this problem.


·         What is “Common Knowledge”?  “Generally speaking, you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources. Additionally, it might be common knowledge if you think the information you’re presenting is something your readers will already know, or something that a person could easily find in general reference sources. But when in doubt, cite; if the citation turns out to be unnecessary, your teacher or editor will tell you.”



  1. What are the consequences for plagiarism (or any form of cheating) at West Georgia and in the English Department?


Plagiarism and Academic Honesty: All work you turn in for this class (and any class you take) must be your own original work, with all outside reference sources properly cited and acknowledged. The English Department, in adherence with the University’s code for academic honesty, defines plagiarism as “using the words and/or ideas of another without properly giving credit to the source(s)” ( and offers the following descriptive list: submission of material that is wholly or substantially identical to that created or published by another person or persons, without adequate credit notations indicating authorship; “false” attempts at paraphrasing and/or documentation (as in making up sources); substitution for, or unauthorized collaboration with, another individual (excessive collaboration is considered plagiarism).


Plagiarism is taken seriously. If caught and substantiated, it results in an automatic F for the course and will be reported to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs for possible probation or suspension from the University. Click here for the University’s policies for handling Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty: and

3.       Plagiarism is unethical because:

Ä      It detracts from another’s original work.

Ä      The student who plagiarizes has an unfair advantage over the student who does his or her own work.

Ä      Rampant plagiarism in an institution of higher learning devalues the worth of the institution’s diploma.

Ä      Students who plagiarize ultimately hurt themselves: they do not cultivate an appreciation for the process of learning and the value of academic achievement. 

4.       How can plagiarism be avoided?

1)       Whether you are quoting directly from a source or paraphrasing, give credit to your research by citing your sources, both in the in-text parenthetical citations and in the Works Cited page:

o        The Works Cited page, the last page of your essay, documents all the sources cited in the text of your paper. If you cite a source on the Works page that isn’t cited in the body of the paper, you may have plagiarized the source (not giving the author credit) or falsified research. Either scenario is unacceptable.

o        A citation gives credit to the source of your information

o        A citation helps others find the source of your information.


2)      Avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing. Here are some strategies to acceptable paraphrasing:


o        Change word forms or parts of speech

o        Use synonyms of “relationship words.” Look for relationship words such as contrast, cause, effect, and substitute a word or phrase that conveys a similar meaning. This will often change the structure of your sentence.

o        Use synonyms of phrases and words; use a good dictionary to find synonyms and to check their usage and context.

o        Your paraphrase can be longer or shorter than the original. Concentrate on the meaning, not on the words.


o        Use reversals or negatives that do not change the meaning

o        Do not change concept words, special terms, or proper names


o        To paraphrase long passages, it is better to take notes and outline the passage. Write your paraphrase from your notes, without looking at the original passage.

o        Change the words, not the meaning (that is, do not add information; you must remain true to the author’s intentions when paraphrasing)

o        Do not change the tone. Again, stay true to the author’s intentions.

o        Check your paraphrase to sound like “you.”

o        Include all the citation information when you are taking notes. If you highlight key points in an author’s essay without citing quotations directly, etc., you may appropriate the wording in your paper, not realizing that the text is a direct quotation.


Ø      Visit the Writing Lab at Indiana University for examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrases:



Student and Faculty Resources:


The St. Martin’s Handbook. Andrea Lunsford. (for reference)

UCLA’s website on Preventing Plagiarism provides numerous links to valuable websites on such topics as avoiding and defining plagiarism, and it offers helpful guides on the research process—where to locate research and how to detect plagiarism.