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Student Guide to Plagiarism: Home

This guide was originally created by Sue Aspley.

Academic Integrity Policy

Academic Integrity Policy  
Of the Undergraduate Community at Azusa University

"The mission of Azusa Pacific University includes cultivating in each student not only the academic skills that are required for a university degree, but also the characteristics of academic integrity that are integral to a sound Christian education.  It is therefore part of the mission of the university to nurture in each student a sense of moral responsibility consistent with the biblical teachings of honesty and accountability."


Definitions can go from more basic to extremely multifaceted, trying to encompass all possibilities.

One very succinct one comes from the Council of Writing Program Administrators:

"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 the source."

Main points: other's language, other's ideas, or other's original knowledge.

This definition applies to print materials, visual materials, sound recordings, graphs, charts, digital ,including YouTube.   It is the work of another so always evaluate using the another's material and how to give credit where credit is due.  It could even include texting messages and e-mail.

In a more classic sense Plagiarism is derived from the Latin word plagiarius ("kidnapper"),  

Plagiarism is a form of cheating that is "the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person's mind and presenting it as one's own." (Alexander Lindey, Plagiarism and Originality {New York, Harper, 1952} 2).  It is an act of intellectual theft or larceny.

Types of Plagiarism


Direct Copy & Paste

  1. Copy from a website
  2. Copy verbatim an article from a database, a magazine, a journal or newspaper.
  3. Copy major portion of a book.
  4. Copy from colleagues, professor's or friends work.
  5. Any portion of using, copying another's work without citing or attribution.

Small Modification of original

  1. Submitting another's work  either entirely or with minor rewording or rephrasing as one's own, no citation.
  2. Submitting a wok that the major part is composed of major portions of another work without citation.
  3. Mix copies material from multiple sources not citation.
  4. Submitting a work where all or most of the citations are fictional, fabricated or nonexistent.
  5. Failure to place quotations marks around a direct quote and provide citation.
  6. Buying a paper on line and submitting as your own.
  7. Using a previously written research paper from another class without permission.

Normally unintentional plagiarism results from failure to follow scholarly policies and citation procedures.

  1. Failure to give attribution to a source that is not common knowledge.
  2. Failure to do a block quote for use of several phrases of exact words.
  3. Failure to paraphrase in your own words.
  4. Failure to avoid too much summarizing and not putting idea in your own words.
  5. Failure to accurately represent the idea or ideas of the source.

Common Knowledge

Common Knowledge or Facts:
Do Not Have to Be Documented


Examples of common knowledge:

  • Thomas Jefferson was our third president.
  • The LA Dodgers home stadium is Chavez Ravine.

General rule:

  • if you have come across a fact in multiple sources, three or more, there is a high probability that this known or common information.
  • An average educated person would already be aware of this matter.
  • It is very easy to look-up or verify the fact.
  • The fact is not contentious or controversial.

HOWEVER, when in doubt always provide a citation!

  • No need to document when you are discussing your own experiences, observation, or reactions;
  • Compiling the results of original research, from science experiments or similar endeavors;
  • It is common knowledge or facts.

Examples of Paraphrase

Successful and Unsuccessful Attempts at Paraphrase

A Patchwork Paraphrase

Chase (1995) describes how nurses in a critical care unit function in a hierarchy that places designated experts at the top and the least senior staff nurses at the bottom. The experts — the nurse manager, nurse clinician, and clinical nurse specialist — are not involved directly in patient care. The staff nurses, in contrast, are assigned to patients and provide all their nursing care. Within the staff nurses is a hierarchy of seniority in which the most senior can become resource nurses: they are assigned a patient but also serve as a resource to other caregivers. The experts have administrative and teaching tasks such as selecting and orienting new staff, developing unit policies, and giving hands-on support where needed.

Why this is plagiarism
This paraphrase is a patchwork composed of pieces in the original author’s language (in red) and pieces in the student-writer’s words, all rearranged into a new pattern, but with none of the borrowed pieces in quotation marks. Thus, even though the writer acknowledges the source of the material, the red phrases are falsely presented as the student’s own.

A Legitimate Paraphrase

In her study of the roles of nurses in a critical care unit, Chase (1995) also found a hierarchy that distinguished the roles of experts and others. Just as the educational experts described above do not directly teach students, the experts in this unit do not directly attend to patients. That is the role of the staff nurses, who, like teachers, have their own “hierarchy of seniority” (p. 156). The roles of the experts include employing unit nurses and overseeing the care of special patients (nurse manager), teaching and otherwise integrating new personnel into the unit (clinical nurse specialist and nurse clinician), and policy-making (nurse clinician). In an intermediate position in the hierarchy is the resource nurse, a staff nurse with more experience than the others, who assumes direct care of patients as the other staff nurses do, but also takes on tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the entire facility.

Why this is a good paraphrase
The writer has documented Chase’s material and specific language (by direct reference to the author and by quotation marks around language taken directly from the source). Notice too that the writer has modified Chase’s language and structure and has added material to fit the new context and purpose — to present the distinctive functions of experts and non-experts in several professions.


Shared Language
Perhaps you’ve noticed that a number of phrases from the original passage appear in the legitimate paraphrase: critical care, staff nurses, nurse manager, clinical nurse specialist, nurse clinician, resource nurse.

If all these phrases were in red, the paraphrase would look much like the “patchwork” example. The difference is that the phrases in the legitimate paraphrase are all precise, economical, and conventional designations that are part of the shared language within the nursing discipline (in the too-close paraphrases, they’re red only when used within a longer borrowed phrase).

In every discipline and in certain genres (such as the empirical research report), some phrases are so specialized or conventional that you can’t paraphrase them except by wordy and awkward circumlocutions that would be less familiar (and thus less readable) to the audience.

When you repeat such phrases, you’re not stealing the unique phrasing of an individual writer but using a common vocabulary shared by a community of scholars.

Some Examples of Shared Language You Don’t Need to Put in Quotation Marks

  • Conventional designations: e.g., physician’s assistant, chronic low-back pain
  • Preferred bias-free language: e.g., persons with disabilities
  • Technical terms and phrases of a discipline or genre: e.g., reduplication, cognitive domain, material culture, sexual harassment

Chase, S. K. (1995). The social context of critical care clinical judgment.  Heart and Lung, 24, 154-162.

Used with permission from The Writing Center at The University of Wisconsin - Madison

Electronic Resources Dealing with Plagiarism

Word Cloud about Plagiarism

Biblical Roots

Plagiarism for Christians: A Higher Standard

Christians especially should be aware that all of creation, all resources are done in collaboration.  We believe that God as our Creator has shared his universe with us in "three glorious persons who always and everywhere work to gather in the divine economy."  Therefore as Christians we should sense a stronger need to acknowledge the creations of others around us. In the New Testament  there is a very relevant example for us.   "That is how we speak, in shorthand, of the apostle's letters, but Paul himself was amazingly quick to credit his partners in ministry and, so it seems, fellow authors, even when the letters were written in the first person singular and clearly reflect the apostle's personal heart and mind."  The letters of Paul are an example for giving proper attribution.

In the Christian world we have a higher standard based on our heritage and the examples  in the Bible from various sources to include some of our apostles. The use of others work without proper attribution debases the writer and destroys the integrity of the writer.

Glossary of Terms

  • ATTRIBUTION  The acknowledgement that something came from another source.  Ideas from another are properly referenced.
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY  A list of sources used in preparing a work.
  • CITATION  A short, formal indication of the source of information or of the quoted material.  It can be the act of quoting material.  It can be following a style manual for formal references to sources utilized.
  • CITE  This is the actual information detailing the source used normally in a short, standardized format such as APA.  To quote material.  To reference something to the original source.
  • COMMON KNOWLEDGE This is information that is readily available to anyone and normally it is possible to look to numerous sources wherein it is either cited or has been use.
  • COPYRIGHT  This is a type of legally protected property that is called intellectual property. It gives the owner of such property the exclusive rights over the use and to use this property without appropriate legal authority could be illegal and copyright infringement.
  • FACTS  Knowledge or information that is based on real, observable occurrences.  
  • FAIR USE  This is an exemption to the rights of the copyright holder.  It requires a balancing of factors
  • INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY  This is a creative form of property and there are three kinds, copyright, patent and trademarks.
  • ORIGINAL  These are unique ideas, resources and are not based on another's work.
  • PARAPHRASE  A restatement of a text passage into one's own words.
  • PUBLIC DOMAIN  Intellectual property  that is no longer subject to copyright limitations and may be used freely.
  • QUOTATION  Using words of another and crediting this by quotation marks.


Paraphrasing is essentially stating the concept or idea in your own words.
In paraphrasing you are essentially restating the idea or ideas of your source, using your language, your own vocabulary, and your own sentence structure. As other ideas originating with someone else, paraphrased material must be properly attributed or cited.

When should I paraphrase?

  • Along with quotation and summary, paraphrase is one of the more useful tools for integrating your sources into your paper.  Summary and quotes are dealt with in the next tab go back to the list across the top.
  • Paraphrase enables one to use the idea of another without encumbering the paper with too much in the way of direct quotes.  This also makes the paper more your own and shows originality.  

Whenever you paraphrase remember these two important matters:
1) You must always do attribution and give a proper citation in your reference table.
2) The paraphrase has to be yours, your words.  You must do more than merely substitute a word a word here and there. You must create sentences in your framework to convey the idea.

Summarize or Quote?

Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) of one or even several writers into your own words, including the main points of each.  Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad view of the source material.  Again it is important to give attribution to the ideas summarized by citation.  These are not your original ideas but those of another.

Summarize when:

  • You want to establish the background for the idea or perhaps offer an overview of a topic.
  • You want to describe or pull together knowledge from more than one source.
  • You want to bring several main ideas from a single source into one section.

As you take notes be sure to keep exact phrases in quotation marks. Also you can always mark your notes with a large Q.  Make sure you reference the writer.

These are exact words and differ from paraphrasing and a summary because of this.  Around the text from the source place quotation marks.  Anytime you are doing an exact quote a red flag should go up you also need a proper citation to the source.

Word of caution: do not over use direct quotes, it takes away from the originality of your work.

Avoiding Plagiarism


In your writing and your research papers ensure that your own ideas are equally represented at the same time as presenting those of others.  It is possible through complete research on a topic to start to see what others have said, who are the authorities and then determine what you can add to this that is your own.


Be sure you understand your assignment and the time frame for your work.  Planning your paper may be the most important first step you take and prevent plagiarism.  You know you are going to need other sources of information: what types, how many, and where you will search for these?  Here stop and think about your topic, what do you see now as your views, thoughts, ideas and what may be the ideas of others?  Keep track of this throughout your research and revisit this to see that you have a balance.  

Once you have numerous notes and a sense of the direction your paper will take:  WRITE AN OUTLINE  Then look for gaps and what additional work is required.


One of the primary ways to prepare for research and to write a paper is by taking complete notes from your sources.  As you take notes also make a notation will this need paraphrasing perhaps put P near the note, will this require a summation place an S or will this be a direct quote place Q.  When you return to start to write and integrate your sources you will be aware of the follow on tasks needed.

Always keep track of citation and be sure you have complete information for the citation.  One practice to keep track of sources is to color code or use colored fonts or pens for example: red is primary and requires citation, blue for quotation and citation and green for secondary as well as a citation is required.  Try as you take notes to distinguish your ideas it will save time when you start to write and pull this together.


When in doubt always do attribution, provide a citation.  

Actually citations do not take away from the originality of your paper normally the opposite.  It shows you know how to integrate ideas properly with your own.  It shows you are not just writing something you know but assimilating the knowledge of others in an experienced manner.  These sources and citations lead support to your own ideas and make your work stronger and more credible.  This also serves to even highlight your ideas and makes a clear distinction what is original and what is from your research of other sources.


Always make clear the speaker, who said what and then do your citation accordingly.  Even if you do cite your source, ambiguity in your phrasing or reference could mislead as to the real source and inadvertently cause plagiarism. Make sure as you mix and integrate your ideas with those of your sources you distinguish them.  If you are discussing the ideas of more than one person check your pronouns.   Be clear who said what and give the proper citation.


One of the biggest culprits that leads to plagiarism is waiting till the last minute to begin a research project or paper.  Students fail to have the right notes, good sources and even the information to complete the paper properly.  Do  not fall into this trap.


Plan ahead, manage time, take good notes, paraphrase, summarize, note quotations and attribution, attribution!!!