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Mark Twain, "Unconscious Plagiarism" (Mark Twain's Speeches. Harper & Brothers, 1910)


The act of using the work of another and passing it off as one's own.

Using someone else's exact words without quoting them is plagiarism. In addition, if we paraphrase or summarize someone else's ideas, we are still required to document our sources. (See Examples and Observations, below.)

See also:


From the Latin, "kidnapping"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Plagiarism is a species of intellectual fraud. It consists of unauthorized copying that the copier claims (whether explicitly or implicitly, and whether deliberately or carelessly) is original with him and the claim causes the copier's audience to behave otherwise than it would if it knew the truth."
    (Richard A. Posner, The Little Book of Plagiarism. Pantheon, 2007)

  • "No plagiarist can excuse the wrong by showing how much of his work he did not pirate."
    (Judge Learned Hand, "Sheldon vs. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp," 1936)

  • "Student norms contrast with official norms not just because of this proliferation of quoting without attribution, but because students question the very possibility of originality. They often reveal profound insights into the nature of creation and demonstrate a considered acceptance of sharing and collaboration."
    (Susan D. Blum, My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture. Cornell Univ. Press, 2009)

  • How to Reduce Plagiarism
    "[A]ccording to the results of an experiment conducted by professors at the University of Michigan and Swarthmore College . . ., incidents of plagiarism could be reduced by as much as 65 percent when students participated in a '15-minute Web-based tutorial that [taught them] what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it . . ..' The Web tutorials, according to the researchers, were especially effective with one high-risk group in particular: those who had lower SAT scores coming into their institution."
    (D. Nagel, "Plagiarism Deterred Through Information, Not Threats." Campus Technology, Feb. 2, 2010)

  • Who Plagiarizes?
    "The section of the University of Oregon handbook that deals with plagiarism . . . was copied from the Stanford handbook. . . .

    "No wonder young people are confused, and no wonder they continue to plagiarize in record numbers, with more than 40 percent of college students admitting to copying from the Internet in 2001. We talk to them about plagiarism in absolute terms, as if we were all agreed on what it was, and yet the literature suggests that once you’re out of school, it proves to be a crime like any other, with the punishment partly depending on whom you know and on how well you pull it off."
    (C. McGrath, "Plagiarism: Everybody Into the Pool." The New York Times, Jan. 7, 2007)

    "A report from the Higher Education Academy [UK] . . . estimates that plagiarism among taught postgraduate students was much higher than among undergraduates. . . . The report says: 'It was surprising to observe that the recorded level of plagiarism among postgraduate students (1.19%) was so much higher than the recorded level among undergraduate students (0.67%). The traditional view is that inexperienced pupils entering higher education are the most likely to commit plagiarism due to a lack of skills in academic literacy and citation techniques.'"
    (Natasha Gilbert, "Copy Editing." The Guardian, June 24, 2008)

    "In an undergraduate survey conducted this academic year at a dozen colleges by Rutgers professor Donald McCabe, 67% of the 13,248 respondents admitted to having cheated at least once on a paper or test."
    (J. Rawe, "Battling Term-Paper Cheats." Time, May 17, 2007)

  • The Lighter Side of Plagiarism
    "I cheated wrong. I copied the Lisa name and used the Ralph answers."
    (Ralph Wiggum, "Stealing First Base." The Simpsons)
Pronunciation: PLAY-je-riz-em
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