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Identifying and Avoiding Plagiarism: Home


What Constitutes Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is:

The verbatim use of any passage or phrase lifted from a published or unpublished source and presented as the student’s own writing without acknowledging indebtedness is dishonest. Hacker says, “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 commit plagiarism, a serious academic offense” (Hacker, 2004). The submission of another student’s paper as your own is plagiarism; repeating someone else’s phrases or words or presenting another person’s ideas as your own is plagiarism.

Part of the Hiram College Style Sheet

Hacker, Diana. Rules for Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004. print.


What activities may constitute plagiarism?

(This list is not exhaustive)

Unauthorized assistance from persons:

Authorized assistance consists of the support system the College has sanctioned, including the Writing Center, Vencl-Carr and writing assistants, and peer editors; however, “assistants” and “readers” can also be accused of plagiarism if they are involved in any way in the following offenses:

  1. Using a paper written by another student.
  2. Asking a “friend” to write a paper for you, and using it as your own.
  3. Agreeing to supply other students with work not their own in either way listed above (or other ways that represent an excess of “help,” such as writing entire paragraphs for other people).
  4. Allowing one person in a collaborative writing project to do all the writing, and handing it in as the result of a collaboration (all parties are guilty).
  5. Turning in a paper written in another course, without telling an instructor you are doing so.
  6. Handing in a paper purchased off an internet site.
  7. Deliberately breaking the rules of fair assistance established by a professor for a particular assignment; if a professor tells you, for example, that the Writing Center may not be consulted on a take-home essay exam, it may not.

Unacknowledged assistance from sources:

  1. Using published material word for word, without citing it or placing it in quotation marks (or both).
  2. Paraphrasing without citation.
  3. Paraphrasing with words too close to the original source.
  4. Placing the citation for a paraphrase at a place in your text that does not clearly indicate which sentences that precede it are included in the paraphrase.
  5. Changing words in a paraphrase, but not syntax.
  6. Failing to distinguish what is and is not common knowledge.

Plagiarism Defined:

To plagiarize is to use someone else's work, whether published or unpublished, thru direct quotation or paraphrase, without giving credit to the author.  Copy-pasting directly from the Internet or from online works is also plagiarism

Check the Student Academic Responsibilities section of the Hiram College Catalog for the definition of plagiarism and its repercussions.

The Hiram College Writing Center's Style Guide also provides resources to help you avoid plagiarism. 


This page from Purdue University should help you avoid plagiarism: Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing

And several more pages from Purdue University to hone your skills at paraphrasing:

Suggestions to avoid plagiarism:

  • Even when you paraphrase, you must include a parenthetical citation so we know whose idea you are including, and what page it occurs on.
  • Did you know that when you paraphrase you are responsible for doing far more than just plugging in a few synonyms?  If you use the exact word order of the original line, this is also a form of plagiarism, even though all the main words have been changed.
  • You should always use a signal phrase (Hacker’s term) or some sort of attribution when you introduce a quotation.  For example, you might say any of the following: As Hacker writes, According to Hacker, As Hacker has said.  You should always name your sources, not try to meld yourself with them.
  • Have you ever placed a parenthetical citation (or footnote, if you used the footnote system in your high school) at the end of a long paragraph--a paragraph completely paraphrased, consisting of multiple sentences?  How are we to know, without a signal phrase, where the paraphrase begins?  Which lines are yours and which your authority’s?
  • Do you understand your source well enough to paraphrase it?  Sometimes an authority writes in such a complicated way, or deals with such complex ideas that you might be tempted to paraphrase very awkwardly or to include more words from the original source than you really need because you don’t understand the concept being discussed in your source.  You cannot successfully paraphrase until you do!!

  • One way to avoid losing your focus is to make sure that topic sentences very seldom contain quotations.  You should use those sentences (and many more) to advance the main lines of your argument or the particular synthesis of information that you are trying to convey.  If your only job is to scissors and paste the views of others together, you will not necessarily be guilty of academic dishonesty (though the risks are higher that errors like those above might occur).  However, your work will nonetheless lack the intellectual ambition we expect it to exhibit.

Research papers and essays promote learning and growth.  They are integral to your experience at Hiram College.  As we write them, we realize—and acknowledge—our debt to others, as well as our own distinct contribution to knowledge.  We are a part of a community of learners. One day, many of you reading this page will write something so good, so wise, and so important that others in your field will want to refer to what you have said.  You will have deserved a nod of recognition—you will have earned it.  You, in turn, must tip your hat to others now.

Plagiarism Resources

Hiram College Style Sheet
Directions for the Preparation of Research Papers and Essays at Hiram College

Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices
The Council of Writing Program Administrators' document on plagiarism for faculty, staff, and students. A good resource for those interested in understanding what plagiarism is more keenly.

Purdue OWL: Avoiding Plagiarism
The plagiarism portion of the Purdue OWL, one of the premier websites for information on writing papers and dealing with research citation.