Plagiarism - Are you a Copycat or an Original

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Did you know .....

  It could affect your education

In 1990 Paul Haugh submitted a plagiarized paper to his High School. Haugh was suspended for 3 days and the high school sent letters to all the colleges that had already accepted Haugh. Haugh v. Bullis School Incorporated. (US Court of Appeals, 1990)

 It could affect your job

Elias Alsabti graduated from Medical School in 1980 and became a well respected Physician in Massachusetts. In 1989 the Board of Medicine revoked Alsabti's License to practice medicine due to Plagiarism. The Board of Medicine learned that in 1979, while still in graduate school, Alsabti published at least 4 plagiarized articles in a medical journal. Elias A. Alsabti vs. Board of Registration in Medicine 1989 (404 Mass.547 (1989)) (Supreme Judicial Court, 1989)

 It could affect your degree

After Graduating from New Mexico State University., Michael Hand's Ph.D. was revoked by the University when they later found his dissertation to contain plagiarism. (US Court of Appeals, 1992)


What is Plagiarism?


"Is plagiarism just copying someone else's work or "borrowing" someone else's ideas?" No. Plagiarism is more than that; it is a type of fraud--stealing another's ideas or words and lying about it. This is unethical and illegal. The only way to use someone else's work without plagiarizing is to give credit to the original author by citing sources and placing quotation marks around the exact language that is cited.


Learn more about the following types of Plagiarism in the YouTube video on the next screen:

Turning in someone else's work, word-for-word, and claiming as yours.

Copying significant portions of text straight from a single source, without alteration.

Trying to disguise plagiarism by copying from several different sources, tweaking the sentences to make them fit together while retaining most of the original phrasing.

Retaining the essential content of the source, but altering the paper's appearance slightly by changing key words and phrases.

Buying a paper and submitting it as your own work.

Providing inaccurate information regarding the sources, making it impossible to find them.



Consequences of Plagiarism

Click here to read the Randolph Community College Academic Integrity Policy.


A student who violates RCC's Academic Integrity Policy will receive the following sanctions:

First Offense - a grade of "0" on the test, quiz, or assignment.

Second Offense - a grade of "F" for the course and academic probation for one semester.

Third Offense - suspension or expulsion from the College.

Note: These sanctions are not on a per course or per semester basis, but rather for your entire academic career at RCC.



 Avoiding Plagiarism


What is a Citation? When should a citation be used? What should be included in a citation?

Whenever you borrow words or ideas, you need to acknowledge their source. The following situations almost always require citation

Whenever you use quotes.

Whenever you paraphrase.

Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed.

Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another.

Whenever someone else's work has been critical in developing your own ideas.

The citation should include the following

Information about the author.

The title of the work.

The name and location of the company that published your copy of the source.

The date your copy was published.

The page numbers of the material you are "borrowing." )

A "citation" is a reference that lets the reader know where the information came from. It gives the reader a path to find that information in the event he or she would like to follow up on it, and it credits the author of the work.

Note taking strategies for citing sources: 

 1. "Put in quotations everything that comes directly from the text especially when taking notes.

In your notes, always mark someone else's words with a big Q, for quote, or use big quotation marks " "

Indicate in notes which ideas are taken from sources with a big S, and which are your own insights (ME)

When information comes from sources, record relevant documentation in your notes (book and article titles; URLs on the Web)

 2. Paraphrase, make sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words.

Put quotation marks around any unique words or phrases that you cannot or do not want to change, e.g., "savage inequalities" exist throughout our educational system (Kozol).

Use a statement that credits the source somewhere in the paraphrase or summary, e.g., According to Jonathan Kozol, ....

Read over what you want to paraphrase carefully; cover up the text with your hand, or close the text so you can't see any of it (and so aren't tempted to use the text as a "guide"). Write out the idea in your own words without peeking.

3. Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate."

Click here for additional writing and work habit tips that may be helpful to you (courtesy of Princeton University).

 Where can you get help when you have a paper to write?

Your Instructor: they will tell you which writing style you will need to use for your work. If you have a question, just ask them.


RCC Library: stop in and ask our RCC Librarians any questions you may have (e.g. how to cite a source, how to research a topic, etc.). The RCC Library site also has an online Citation Style Guide for APA and MLA.


RCC Writing Center: is located on the 2nd floor of the Learning Resources Center in LRC room 214. The Writing Center offers assistance through each phase of the writing process, from prewriting to revision, plus you can receive help with research and MLA & APA documentation styles. This is a free service provided to currently enrolled RCC students.


Moodle - TurnItIn: when using Moodle, you can click on TurnItIn and submit your paper for a plagiarism audit check. 

Additional Resources that may be helpful to you: 

Write Check - presents users with easy to interpret results showing which sections of a paper appear to be unoriginal and that the writer should verify as properly cited, summarized or paraphrased. Fee based.

Scan My Essay - plagiarism checker. Free

Zotero - easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources. Free

Citation Machine - lets you type in your source information and creates the citation for you. Free

Google - additional search results example


 Types of Styles and Formats:


Many times your instructor will ask you to write a paper using a particular writing style (also known as a "format").   There are a variety of styles that may be used, make sure you know which specific style your instructor wishes for you to use and follow the guides. Each style will require specific formatting requirements for: font and font size, spacing, in-text citations, and sources.


Types of Styles and Formats:

APA - Click here for examples and here more information.

MLA - Click here for examples and here more information.

Chicago - Click here for examples and more information.

Biology - Click here for examples and more information.

  APA Text Popper: APA (American Psychological Association) is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.

MLA Text Popper: MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page. Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in MLA.

Chicago Text Popper: The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) covers a variety of topics from manuscript preparation and publication to grammar, usage, and documentation. The material in this resource focuses primarily on the two CMS documentation styles the Notes-Bibliography System (NB), which is used by those in literature, history, and the arts, and the Author-Date System, which is preferred in the sciences.

Biology Text Popper: Though scientific publications document sources in similar ways, the details of presenting source information vary from journal to journal. Often publications provide prospective authors with style sheets that outline formats for presenting sources. Before submitting an article to a scientific publication, you should request its style sheet. If one is not available, examine a copy of the publication to see how sources are documented. When writing for a science course, check with your instructor about how to cite and list your sources.

Most biologists, zoologists, earth scientists, geneticists, and other scientists use one of three systems of documentation specified by the Council of Science Editors in Scientific Style and Format The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (7th ed., 2006).

In the CSE name-year system, the author of the source is named in the text and the date is given in parentheses. (The Social Sciences tab describes an author-date system that is similar to the CSE name-year system.)

In the CSE citation-sequence system, each source cited in the paper is given a number the first time it appears in the text. Anytime the source is referred to again, the text is marked with the same number. At the end of the paper, a list of references provides full publication information for each numbered source. Entries in the reference list are numbered in the order in which they are mentioned in the paper.

In the CSE citation-name system, the list of references is first put in alphabetical order and then the entries are numbered in that order. Those numbers are used in the text to cite the sources from the list.

Copyright Laws©

Copyright laws exist to protect our intellectual property. They make it illegal to reproduce someone else's expression of ideas or information without permission. Intellectual properties are works including the written word (as in books, magazine articles, poetry, etc.), games, software, video, other media, images, and music.


Many times you will see the © symbol on copyrighted works. A law established in 1989 changed original copyright law and states that copyrighted material does not have to have the © symbol. This makes it more difficult for you to determine if a copyright exists; therefore, you should treat all works as thought they are copyright protected.


Anyone who reproduces copyrighted material improperly can be prosecuted in a court of law. It does not matter if the form or content of the original has been altered -- as long as any material can be shown to be substantially similar to the original, it may be considered a violation of the Copyright Act.

For information on how long a copyright lasts, see the next page on public domain.

Public Domain

ABSOLUTELY FREE! MUSIC, TEXT AND ART!! COPY ALL YOU WANT!! If you saw an advertisement like this, you might wonder, "What's the catch?" When it comes to the public domain, there is no catch. If a book, song, movie or artwork is in the public domain, then it is not protected by intellectual property laws (such as copyright, trademark or patent law) --which means it's free for you to use without permission.


How do works enter into public domain?

As a general rule, most works enter the public domain because of old age. This includes any work published in the United States before 1923.

Another large block of works are in the public domain because they were published before 1964 and copyright was not renewed. (Renewal was a requirement for works published before 1978.)

A smaller group of works fell into the public domain because they were published without copyright notice (copyright notice was necessary for works published in the United States before March 1, 1989).

Some works are in the public domain because the owner has indicated a desire to give them to the public without copyright protection.

How do I know if something is public domain or not? 

In terms of time, anything published more than 75 years ago is public domain. Works published after 1978 are protected for the life of the creator plus 70 years. For things that fall in between these two periods, it is best to assume them copyrighted or contact an attorney for clarification; it is complicated and varies per situation.


Fair Use

"The United States government has established rough guidelines for determining the nature and amount of work that may be "borrowed" without explicit written consent. These are called "fair use" laws, because they try to establish whether certain uses of original material are reasonable. The laws themselves are vague and complicated." (,

There are exceptions for "fair use" of copyrighted materials, especially in education. Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, but it is very complicated to determine what is and is not "fair use." Typically, if you are not profiting from it, it is for educational purposes, and the amount used is not significant compared to the whole, it is deemed "fair use." Only the courts can make a clear determination, so be careful. 

Most fair use analysis falls into two categories: commentary and criticism; or parody.

1. Comment and Criticism

If you are commenting upon or critiquing a copyrighted work--for instance, writing a book review -- fair use principles allow you to reproduce some of the work to achieve your purposes. Some examples of commentary and criticism include:

quoting a few lines from a Bob Dylan song in a music review

summarizing and quoting from a medical article on prostate cancer in a news report

copying a few paragraphs from a news article for use by a teacher or student in a lesson, or

copying a portion of a Sports Illustrated magazine article for use in a related court case.

The underlying rationale of this rule is that the public benefits from your review, which is enhanced by including some of the copyrighted material.

2. Parody

A parody is a work that ridicules another, usually well-known work, by imitating it in a comic way. Judges understand that by its nature, parody demands some taking from the original work being parodied. Unlike other forms of fair use, a fairly extensive use of the original work is permitted in a parody in order to "conjure up" the original.


Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers an alternative to full copyright. Click here to view the Creative Commons website. When you see the Creative Commons license logo (like above) on online work, the creator is allowing you to copy and distribute their work provided you give them credit, and abide by the conditions (what you can and can't do with their work) that they specify (explanations below).

There are fours types of creative commons licenses: Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works, Share Alike. Click here to find out what these types of licenses mean.

"You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license. If you are in doubt you should contact the copyright holder directly, or try to contact the site where you found the content."




1. United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, . "900 F2d 252 Haugh v. Bullis School Incorporated." OpenJurist.Org. United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit., 9 March 1990. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

2. Supreme Judicial Court, Suffolk, . "ELIAS A. ALSABTI vs. BOARD OF REGISTRATION IN MEDICINE.." Supreme Judicial Court, Suffolk, 10 April 1989. Web. 29 June 2010. <, +536+N.E.2d+357&hl=en&as_sdt=40000000002&as_vis=1>.

 3. United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit., . "957 F.2d 791, Michael HAND, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. William H. MATCHETT; Michael Zimmerman; William B. Conroy; James E. Halligan; New Mexico State University, Defendants-Appellants.." United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, 25 Feb. 1992. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

 4. " What is Plagiarism.", n.d. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

5. Cape Fear Community College NC. (2009, August 25). A Quick Guide To Plagiarism [Video file]. Retrieved from

6. College of St. Catherine Library. (2009, February 24). Avoiding Plagiarism: The Real World [Video file]. Retrieved from

7. " What is citation?", n.d. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

8. "Reading and note taking." Purdue OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 2005-2010. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

9. "Writing paraphrases or summaries." Purdue OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 2005-2010. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

10. "Writing direct quotations." Purdue OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 2005-2010. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

11. "Strategies for avoiding plagiarism." Indiana University, Writing Tutorial Services, 27 April 2004. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

12. "Princeton University, Working Habits that Work ." Princeton University., Publication: Academic Integrity at Princeton (2008) , August 2008. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

13. Randolph Community College Library Link, <>

14. Randolph Community College Writing Center Link, <>

15. "How to Find: Citation Style Guides, APA Format." Randolph Community College, Library, Web. 29 Jun 2010 <>

17. "How to Find: Citation Style Guides, MLA Format." Randolph Community College, Library, Web. 29 Jun 2010 <>

18. "APA Style." Purdue OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 2005-2010. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

19. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide." Purdue OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 2005-2010. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

20. "Chicago Manual of Style." Purdue OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 2005-2010. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

21. Hacker, D. Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, Fourth Edition. Sciences, Retrieved June 29, 2010, from

22. Media Education Foundation: Freedom of Expression, Resistance & Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property, DVD Extras including the short film "A Fair(y) Use Tale". (2007, May 18). A Fair(y) Use Tale [Video file]. Retrieved from

23. " What are copyright laws?", n.d. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

24. "Copyright and Fair Use/Chapter 8/ The Public Domain." Stanford University, ©2005-2009 The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. With the exception of the Nolo Copyright and Fair Use Overview, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.Web. 29 June 2010. <>.

25. " How do I know if something is public domain or not?", n.d. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>

26. " What is "fair use," anyway?", n.d. Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>

27. "Copyright and Fair Use Overview/Chapter 9/ What is Fair Use?" Stanford University, ©2005-2009 The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. With the exception of the Nolo Copyright and Fair Use Overview, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.Web. 29 June 2010. <>.

28. "Creative Commons: About." Creative Creative, Web. 29June 2010. <>.

29. "" Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

30. "Creative Commons: Find." Creative Creative, Web. 29 Jun 2010. <>.

31. " Emoticon making decision.", Web. 29 June 2010. <|>

32. NCLOR,. "A Lesson In Plagiarism ACA112 M1." NCLOR, 30 June 2009. Web. 29 Jun 2010.< 3Fpg.e%3Dtrue%26pg_pp%3