Plagiarism About Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Simply put, plagiarism is the use of an other's original words or ideas as though they were your own. Any time you borrow from an original source and do not give proper credit, you have committed plagiarism and violated U.S. copyright laws.

Did you know?

It doesn't matter if you intend to plagiarize or not! In the eyes of the law, and most publishers and academic institutions, any form of plagiarism is an offense that demands punitive action. Ignorance is never an excuse.

If a plagiarist receives more than $2,500 for copyrighted material, he or she may face up to $250,000 in fines and up to ten years in jail!

It is even possible to plagiarize from yourself, if you are citing a work you submitted elsewhere. In most Universities this will result in a failing grade for the paper, and possibly for the course!

Plagiarism hurts everyone involved:


plagiarists do not acquire the skills legitimate work would teach them, and risk failure and expulsion.


classmates who have worked hard for their grades have to compete with plagiarists for jobs and admissions


teachers have to take time out of the education process to deal with plagiarism


administrators find the principles upon which their institutions are founded undermined by plagiarism, and must devote resources to combating it.

If I change the words, do I still have to cite the source?

Changing only the words of an original source is NOT sufficient to prevent plagiarism. You must cite a source whenever you borrow ideas as well as words.

Plagiarism statistics

According to surveys in U.S. News and World Report***

80% of "high-achieving" high school students admit to cheating.

51% of high school students did not believe cheating was wrong.

95% of cheating high school students said that they had not been detected.

75% of college students admitted cheating, and 90% of college students didn't believe cheaters would be caught.

Almost 85% of college students said cheating was necessary to get ahead.

Professor Donald McCabe, leading expert in academic integrity, in a May 2001 study of over 4500 high school students, found the following:****

72% of students reported one or more instances of serious cheating on written work

15% had submitted a paper obtained in large part from a term paper mill or website

52% had copied a few sentences from a website w/o citing the source

90% of the students using the Internet to plagiarize had also plagiarized from written sources.

In a sample of 1,800 students at nine state universities:*****

70% of the students admitted to cheating on exams

84% admitted to cheating on written assignments

over 45% admitted to collaborating inappropriately with others on assignments