What is Plagiarism?

Forms of Plagiarism


Avoiding Plagiarism

Detection of Plagiarism

Works Cited


Detection of Plagiarism

Plagiarism has become an especially serious issue since the advent of the World Wide Web.  It is easy to copy and paste Web material, making a mosaic of other's work, and to submit that as one's own.  College and university faculty have become skilled at detecting this and other types of plagiarism, and commercial services will help faculty find the sources of suspect submissions


Many instructors can look at a studentís paper and tell if the student wrote it or not.  If the sentences are long and the words polysyllabic (twenty-five cent words), these are hints that the student has copied wording from a source.  If complicated ideas are presented but not explained, that is another hint the work is not original.  Also, instructors have access to studentsí earlier work and have a sense of the studentís style and choices.  Yet in todayís legalistic climate, instructors will often seek proof of plagiarism using any one of the many commercial resources designed to find it.  Plagiarism detection has become a big business.


World Wide Web: Just as students are using the Internet to Cut and Paste work, faculty members are using the Internet to detect plagiarized works.  Several commercial sources are currently in use by faculty members and by colleges and universities throughout the U.S.


Google.com: This popular Web search engine is frequently all an instructor needs to find Web-based plagiarism. Typing in five consecutive words from a text will usually result in the plagiarized source appearing as a search result.


Turn it in: These programs match a studentís paper to Web sources and commercial data bases. A paper submitted to these programs is returned with an originality percentage and a color-coded list of sites where plagiarized passages originally appeared.


Plagiarism is a serious issue. It is a breaking of the ethics and morality expected in academic and professional conduct, and the plagiarist suffers a loss of integrity and trustworthiness. When discovered, the plagiarist faces severe sanctions. This is true in journalism, business, and in college and university settings. Students caught plagiarizing within the UH system may fail the writing assignment, may fail the course, and may face dismissal. Further, plagiarists lose the chance to learn and practice an important skill that they will need in their college and professional careers.

You are your own best defense against plagiarism and its consequences.  Here is an overview of how you can protect yourself again plagiarizing someone else's work.

  • Know what it is
  • Be aware of college and university policies regarding plagiarism
  • Recognize the accidental and intentional forms
  • Understand why and when it is likely to happen
  • Know what to cite and how to cite it
  • Check your writings against your sources' writings before you submit a paper
Created by: Marilyn Bauer and Jacie Moriyama for Leeward Community College
Last Updated: November 1, 2004