Plagiarism Exercises


Emphasis on Defining Plagiarism

Plagiarism: Wikistyle

PDF of Exercise:  DefiningPlagiarism.pdf

Purpose:This approach to plagiarism puts the definition and understanding into the studentsʼhands. It allows them to conceptualize the problems of plagiarism, how it translates intodigital spaces and the consequences of plagiarism through a medium in which theymight likely compose in the future. Most importantly, it creates a sense of “ownership” ofstandards that they will uphold for themselves and their classmates.

Assignment:Create a wiki and invite students (via email) to be members of the space; establish two wiki pages: one for definition/understanding and one for consequences in print and digital composition. Using a two part approach, have students read the FSU policy on Plagiarism and then establish their own definition of what plagiarism is, how it is defined by the institution, and how it translates to digital projects (where students most likely remix/remediate images/video/audio in some way). Have students edit the wiki on their own time and have them initial their definitions; otherwise, their posts will replace classmatesʼ posts instead of creating a working definition with 20-25 voices. Discuss their responses and positions regarding plagiarism. Then direct them to the honor code in the student handbook, which outlines consequences for plagiarism/cheating. Then students will respond to the second wiki.

Prompting questions for part one: What does plagiarism include? How do you define it? How does FSU conceptualize it? What is missing? How does plagiarism affect digital spaces/projects? Is there a difference between intended and accidental plagiarism?Prompting questions for part two: What do you think the consequences for plagiarism should be? How does our institution punish plagiarism? Does that work for digital projects?

Discussion Questions: How does the use of a wiki create a different conversation about plagiarism? Does it complicate the concept? Who “owns” our definition? How will this class help you avoid plagiarism?After both sections are complete, have students sign the “contract” that acknowledges their participation in a plagiarism activity. Throughout the semester, students will have access to this wiki to revisit (and potentially revise) as you work on projects and build their writing toolboxes.

Medium: Wiki ( works well)

Important File: FSU Student Handbook

Emphasis on Understanding Honor Policy and the Specific Kinds of Plagiarism

PDF Version:  UnderstandingPlagiarism.pdf

Before the Plagiarism Exercise

Before completing the in-class plagiarism exercise, assign chapters 12 and 13 of the Bedford Book of Genres entitled “Evaluating and Choosing a Source” and “Integrating and Documenting Sources.” You might choose specific sections of these chapters to feature. As students read, have them write down any questions they have and define plagiarism based on their past experiences. As they enter class, ensure students have access to FSU's definition of plagiarism (featured below).

Florida State University Academic Honor Policy—Penalties

Transitioning from high school- to college-level work involves not only completing more complex assignments but also adhering to more rigorous standards of academic integrity. The College Composition Program’s plagiarism policy adheres to Florida State University’s Academic Honor Policy, which you can view at Students who violate the Academic Honor Policy can face severe penalties, including:

  • Additional academic work
  • Reduced grade (including “0” or “F”) for the assignment
  • Reduced grade (including “F”) for the course
  • Reprimand (written or verbal)
  • Educational Activities
  • Restitution
  • Conduct Probation
  • Disciplinary Probation
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal
  • Expulsion
  • Withholding of diplomas, transcripts, or other records
  • Suspension of degree
  • Revocation of degree.

Because you could face severe consequences for violating the Academic Integrity Policy, you should avoid making any mistakes, whether intentionally or accidentally. Please speak up at any time if you have any questions about academic integrity in general or plagiarism in particular.

Flagrant Plagiarism

Paragraph 1 of the Florida State University Academic Honor Policy states:

PLAGIARISM. Presenting the work of another as one's own (i.e., without proper acknowledgement of the source).  

Typical Examples Include: Using another's work from print, web, or other sources without acknowledging the source; quoting from a source without citation; using facts, figures, graphs, charts or information without acknowledgement of the source.

The first two typical examples of plagiarism outlined in the Academic Honor Policy correspond to deliberate plagiarism and blatant borrowing, concepts you should recognize from high school, even if you have not seen the exact terminology before.

  • Deliberate Plagiarism: Submitting under your name an assignment that is not your own original work, including assignments written by or copied from another individual, whether with or without that individual’s knowledge, consent or compensation. Buying an essay, borrowing from a friend, or cheating off another student all fall under this category.
  • Blatant Borrowing: Copying an exact phrase, sentence, or longer passage from a source and passing it off as your own original idea and/or language by omitting quotation marks and/or in-text and/or bibliographic source citations.

Do you understand why both deliberate plagiarism and blatant borrowing would be considered academically dishonest behaviors? How could you avoid committing these kinds of flagrant plagiarism? (Produce your assignments yourself. Use quotation marks, in-text parenthetical citations, and works cited page bibliographic citations to attribute direct quotes to your sources.) 

Inappropriate Paraphrase and Summary

The third typical example of plagiarism outlined in the Academic Honor Policy, “using facts, figures, graphs, charts or information without [proper] acknowledgement of the source,” refers to inappropriate paraphrase and summary. Your high school may not have emphasized or penalized these issues, so this may be entirely new material for you. If you have any questions, please ask, because inappropriate paraphrase and summary can result in serious punishments at FSU, as outlined in the Academic Honor Policy.

The McGraw-Hill Handbook defines paraphrase as “put[ting] someone else’s statements into your words and sentence structures. A paraphrase should be about the same length and level of detail as the original” (Maimon et al. 322). Summary is a “condens[ed]” paraphrase that focuses on a source’s “main points” (Maimon et al. 326-27). Even though both summary and paraphrase are written in your own words, they use someone else’s ideas. Thus, the source of those ideas must be given credit through full and correct in-text parenthetical and works cited page bibliographic citations. Name your source and use “signal phrases” (Maimon et al. 329-32) to introduce paraphrase or summary, omit quotation marks where you replace your source’s words with original language, and follow your paraphrase or summary with an in-text parenthetical citation naming your source and page (Maimon et al. 346 #10).

Consider the famous line from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” which Don Vito Corleone says about Hollywood mogul Jack Woltz (Puzo 28). Why are the following attempted paraphrases inappropriate?

1. Jack Woltz can’t refuse Don Corleone’s offer (Puzo 28). This borrows the source’s exact language without using quotation marks and thus constitutes plagiarism. Fix by using your own original language or by placing quotation marks around any word, phrase, or passage that uses your source’s exact language, e.g., Jack Woltz must accept Don Corleone’s proposition (Puzo 28) or Jack Woltz “can’t refuse” Don Corleone’s “offer” (Puzo 28).

2. Don Vito Corleone shall render Jack Woltz a proposition that Woltz cannot decline (Puzo 28). This follows the source’s syntax, or sentence structure, substituting synonyms for the original words and thus constitutes plagiarism. Fix by using your own original syntax or by directly quoting the passage and placing it within quotation marks, e.g., Jack Woltz must accept Don Corleone’s proposition (Puzo 28) or Vito Corleone insists, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” (Puzo 28).

3. Don Vito Corleone predicts that Jack Woltz will succumb to his demands. This lacks an in-text citation for the source of ideas, opinions, or information and thus constitutes plagiarism. Fix by providing an in-text parenthetical citation at the end of the paraphrased material and possibly also by introducing the paraphrase through naming the source in your sentence, e.g., Don Vito Corleone predicts that Jack Woltz will succumb to his demands (Puzo 28; Coppola; “The Godfather (1972)—Memorable Quotes”) or Puzo suggests that Don Corleone predicts Jack Woltz will succumb to his demands (28). But who is your source? Did you encounter this quote in Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather? Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather? On IMDb? On YouTube? Somewhere else? Or in multiple places?

Fabrication, Falsification, and Misrepresentation

This brings us to paragraph 4 of the Academic Honor Policy, which identifies:

FABRICATION, FALSIFICATION, AND MISREPRESENTATION. Unauthorized altering or inventing of any information or citation that is used in assessing academic work.

Typical Examples Include: Inventing or counterfeiting data or information; falsely citing the source of information; altering the record of or reporting false information about practicum or clinical experiences; altering grade reports or other academic records; submitting a false excuse for absence or tardiness in a scheduled academic exercise; lying to an instructor to increase a grade.

“[F]alsely citing the source of information” would include citing Puzo’s novel for information you really got from Coppola’s film or citing Coppola’s film for information you really got from YouTube or citing Puzo’s novel for information you really got from IMDb. From an ethical standpoint, claiming to have consulted a source you did not consult is “fabrication, falsification, and misrepresentation”—a violation of the Academic Honor Policy.

From a practical standpoint, you will not have the full context for a quote from a source that you have not consulted. Thus, if you erroneously cite a source that differs in language, content, or meaning from the source you actually consulted, you could and should be penalized for any discrepancy as your personal error. In the case of the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone’s line in Puzo’s novel is “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” (28); in the film, Marlon Brando, who plays Don Vito, says “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”; and IMDb quotes Brando as saying “I'm gonna make him an offer he won't refuse.” Thus, in this instance, “falsely citing the source” would mean that your direct quote would not match the language of your cited source, an error that would render your paper factually inaccurate and would show your instructor that you violated the Academic Honor Policy by misrepresenting your source. If you appropriately cite the source you consulted, on the other hand, your instructor will be able to attribute any potential errors to your source, not to you.

The “fabrication, falsification, and misrepresentation” policy especially applies to original research and indirect sources. When conducting original research, such as experiments or surveys, do not falsify data. When using indirect sources, which the McGraw-Hill Handbookdefines as “quot[ing] or paraphrase[ing] a quotation [or paraphrase] you found in someone else’s work,” you need to give credit both to the source that originally thought or wrote this passage and also to the source where you encountered it. Either in your sentence or as the first word of your in-text citation, you must name the author of the original quote or idea (i.e., your source’s source). Continue your in-text citation by writing qtd. in (i.e., quoted in), the name of your source, and the page number (Maimon et al. 349 #23).

Multiple Submission

Another significant violation of the Academic Honor Policy is self-plagiarism, which is outlined in paragraph 5:

MULTIPLE SUBMISSION. Submitting the same academic work (including oral presentations) for credit more than once without instructor permission.  It is each instructor’s responsibility to make expectations regarding incorporation of existing academic work into new assignments clear to the student in writing by the time assignments are given.

Typical Examples Include: Submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without instructor permission; making minor revisions in a credited paper or report (including oral presentations) and submitting it again as if it were new work.

Although “multiple submission” involves submitting your own work, not someone else’s work, it falls on the plagiarism and academic dishonesty spectrum because the work in question is no longer original. Submitting identical or similar work multiple times and/or in multiple places, including work previously submitted elsewhere prior to your matriculation at FSU, is a violation of the Academic Honor Policy.

Your instructor may refuse to allow you to work with material submitted for another course at any stage of the drafting process, as “multiple submission” violates the Academic Honor Policy. Because “College Composition courses at FSU teach writing as a recursive and frequently collaborative process of invention, drafting, and revising” (“College Composition Mission Statement”), however, your instructor may choose, at his or her own sole discretion, to allow you to use similar work that you have produced in another course as the first draft of an assignment. You may work with material submitted for another class if and only if you inform your instructor of the existence of this similar work immediately, receive your instructor’s approval, provide your instructor with a copy of this similar work promptly, and fully, actively, and appropriately draft, workshop, and revise this material.

Please remember that the lists of typical examples of violations of the Academic Honor Policy are not exhaustive. When in doubt, always consult your instructor, produce your own original work, name your sources in your sentences, use quotation marks around your source’s exact language, provide in-text parenthetical citations after any words or ideas from sources, and list all sources fully and accurately on your works cited page. 

Works Cited

“College Composition Mission Statement.” Florida State University FYC Teacher’s Guide: 2010-2011 Edition. 19th ed. Tallahassee, FL: Florida SU Department of English, 2010. 6. Print.

“Florida State University Academic Honor Policy.” State U, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.

The Godfather. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan. Paramount, 1973. Film.

“The Godfather (1972)—Memorable Quotes.” Internet Movie Database, n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.

Maimon, Elaine P., Janice H. Peritz, and Kathleen Blake Yancey. The McGraw-Hill Handbook. 2nd Florida State U ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.

Puzo, Mario. The Godfather. 1969. New York: New American Library-Penguin, 2005. Print. 

Emphasis on Understanding Honor Policy and the Specific Kinds of Plagiarism

Identifying Plagiarism 

PDF version  identifying plagiarism exercise.pdf

PDF version of Answer Key  identifying plagiarism exercise answer key.pdf

Florida State University Honor Code Statement 

Academic Honor Code: “The Academic Honor System of The Florida State University is based on the premise that each student has the responsibility to: 1) Uphold the highest standards of academic integrity in the student’s own work, 2) Refuse to tolerate violations of the academic integrity in the academic community, and 3) Foster a high sense of integrity and social responsibility on the part of the University community.” 

English Departmental Statement 

Plagiarism is grounds for suspension from the university as well as for failure in this course. It will not be tolerated. Any instance of plagiarism must be reported to the Director of College Composition and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Plagiarism is a counterproductive, dishonest behavior that is unacceptable in courses intended to aid the growth of individual writers. Plagiarism is included among the violations defined in the Academic Honor Code, section b), paragraph 2, as follows: “Regarding academic assignments, violations of the Academic Honor Code shall include representing another’s work or any part thereof, be it published or unpublished, as one’s own.” 

A plagiarism education assignment that further explains this issue will be administered in all college composition courses during the second or third week of class. All students will be responsible for completing the assignment and asking questions regarding any parts they do not fully understand. 

Plagiarism Definition 

In The Curious Researcher, Bruce Ballenger defines plagiarism as “using others’ ideas or words as if they were your own.” Plagiarism can range in scope from accidentally forgetting to place quotation marks around a borrowed sentence, to careless paraphrasing, to deliberately trying to pass off someone else’s paper as your own. Plagiarism is always a serious violation of The Florida State University Academic Honor Code and English Department policy. As a university student you have many educational opportunities and obligations. Plagiarism should never be an option. When you plagiarize, you deny yourself the opportunity to express your own ideas in an academic forum and exhibit your own learning. You are also failing in your obligations to be an active member of an educational community. 

What is Plagiarism? 

  • Deliberate Plagiarism:
     Handing in a paper (as your own work) that you have bought, had a friend write, or copied from another student or the Internet is considered blatant plagiarism and will not be tolerated. 
  • Forgetting to Use Quotation Marks
     Any word, phrase, sentence, or passage copied from a source must be placed in quotation marks. Leaving out the quotation marks constitutes plagiarism. Writers should weave quotes into their own writing and give proper citation to the original author. 
  • Blatant Borrowing:
     Copying or downloading a phrase, a sentence, or a longer passage from a source and passing it off as your own by omitting quotation marks and a source citation constitutes plagiarism. 
  • Sloppy Paraphrasing:
     Paraphrasing someone else’s ideas without acknowledging a source with proper citation constitutes plagiarism. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from published material into your own words. Paraphrased material is often shorter than the original passage, and if cited properly, can be a legitimate way to emphasize points in one’s paper. It also helps writers control the temptation to quote too much. In addition, the mental process of successful paraphrasing helps one grasp the full meaning of the original material. 
  • Other Forms of Plagiarism:
     Omitting a source citation from a paraphrase because of carelessness constitutes plagiarism, as does omitting a source citation for another’s idea. 

Material is probably “Common Knowledge” if: 

  • You find the same information undocumented in at least five other sources.
  • You have good reason to believe it is information that your readers will already know.
  • Your material is known by individuals within your field of study or cultural group. 


When you use information through an interview (or a conversation) with someone, these words and ideas must be cited. Interviews can be conducted in person, through e-mail, on the phone, and through post mail. 

Samples of Student Texts Created from Original Sources

A student in a second-semester college writing course is writing a researched essay on social trends in the last ten years that have influenced the popularity of tattoos. Among the sources she uses in her paper are one from the Internet, one from a book, and one from a journal. Below you will find both the original source material and passages from the student’s paper in which she uses the original source material. Study each example and rewrite if she has plagiarized.

Example of material from internet source 

Source: Hemingson, Vince. Tattoos and the World's 100 Sexiest Women. N.p., 2002. Web. 12 Jun 2003. < >. 

This is the original source:

How many of the world’s top 100 sexiest women have tattoos? FMH Magazine published their annual list of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2002 as voted on by their readers. The poll offers a fascinating insight into the popularity of tattoos among female celebrities. A quick look at the Top 100 list reveals that one of the things that many of the women picked have in common is body art, i.e. tattoos! 

This is the student’s paper:
Many of the world’s top 100 sexiest women have tattoos. Two years ago FMH Magazine published their annual list of the 100 Sexiest Women in the World as voted on by their readers. The poll offers a fascinating insight into the popularity of tattoos among female celebrities. A quick look at the Top 100 list reveals that one of the things that many of the women picked have in common is body art, i.e. tattoos! 

Did this student plagiarize? If so, rewrite the student text so that it is not plagiarized and be ready to provide examples to substantiate your position.

Example of material from a book 

Source: Addonizio, Kim and Cheryl Dumesnil. Introduction. Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. New York: Warner Books, 2002. xiii-xvi. 

From the source:
Clearly, tattooing has emerged from the underbelly to the surface of the American landscape. And as the popularity of tattoos has expanded, so has the art itself. No longer restricted to Bettie Page look-alikes, muddy blue anchors, and ribbon-wrapped hearts reading “Mom,” today’s tattoo images make bold statements of personality, as individualized and varied as any art form. (xiii) 

From the student’s paper:
It’s a fact that tattoos have arisen from the underbelly to the top of the American landscape. Tattooing has experienced a growing popularity, and so has the art itself. It is no longer limited to sailor-style ships and blue anchors, or biker-type hearts reading “Mom.” Today’s images include bold statements of individualized personality as diverse as any art form (Addonizio and Dumesnil xiii). 

Did this student avoid plagiarism in her attempt to summarize material from her source? Why or why not? If it is plagiarized, rewrite the student text so that it is not plagiarized and be ready to provide examples to substantiate your position. 

Example of material from a journal 

Source: Clinical Nursing 10 (2001): 424-41. 

From the source
Participants queried represented a wide age range—between 19 and 55. Results showed that participants perceived few health risks involving piercing and tattooing and desired additional piercings and/or tattoos. Individual expression was an important body alteration motivation for both piercing and tattooing. These findings underscore the importance of health care professionals' maintaining nonjudgmental attitudes about those who alter their bodies, there by facilitating important health education concerning related health risks. 

From the student’s paper:
According to the journal Clinical Nursing, individuals who wanted to have tattoos or piercings do not consider the health risks involved. This makes it clear that for health care professionals, an open-minded attitude towards patients with tattoos or piercings facilitates the optimal environment for important health education concerning related health risks. 

Did the student avoid plagiarism in her attempt to paraphrase the source material? Why or why not? If it is plagiarized, rewrite the student text so that it is not plagiarized and be ready to provide examples to substantiate your position. 

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

PDF of Tips: Tips To Avoid Plagiarism.pdf

Tips To Avoid Plagiarism:

• Use quotations around anything borrowed word for word.

• Cite your quotations and factual information and provide a corresponding Works Cited page. In College Composition classes, MLA is the appropriate model for citations.

• Introducing your sources within the text of your paper helps you to avoid plagiarism.

• When paraphrasing, be sure to give credit to the source you are paraphrasing from.

• Do not turn in a single paper for more than one class.

• Do not turn in a paper that you did not write.

• While researching, make sure to take careful notes and write down all the information needed for citing your work as you find material you want to use. If you cannot find the source that you got your data from, do not use it. 

You must give credit for the following: 

• Direct quotations from your source.

• Facts, data, and information based on other people’s research.

• Paraphrases of another’s work.

• Ideas, opinions, and interpretations that are not your own or that you got from another source.

• Charts, graphs, pictures, images, and raw data that you did not put together yourself.

• Comments from lectures, conversations, and interviews.

What you do not have to cite: 

• Research and raw data that you have compiled yourself.

• Widely known facts/common knowledge. “Common knowledge”: This refers to information so widely known (or accepted to be valid) that no supporting facts or cited research is needed to back it up, such as the following: World War II ended in August of 1945. Almost no one will dispute this statement, and it is commonly accepted without debate. “Common knowledge” statements can be passages like this: Television ratings for the Super Bowl are traditionally so high that advertisers spend millions of dollars to advertise their clients’ products during the broadcast. Again, this claim refers to topics so extensively researched/documented that it is not necessary to provide an authoritative source to support it. But be aware: what is common knowledge to you may not necessarily be common knowledge to another reader, so cite any information you feel might be unknown to those outside whatever specific topic you’re writing on.

• Your own opinions, conclusions, and feelings about your topic. 

Ways to Avoid Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty 

1. Make sure you understand the assignment, which includes recognizing what kind of writing you will be doing. Note what kinds of sources you might need: primary texts, a survey, an interview. All of these are types of sources you may encounter in ENC 1101. If you have questions about the assignment, ask your instructor. The earlier in the process you ask questions, the better your chances of avoiding plagiarism.

2. You should choose a topic that interests you or that you are curious about. Being close to a topic makes the paper feel more like your own and gives you ownership of the writing process. Within the parameters of an assignment, ENC 1101 gives you the freedom to choose specific topics you wish to write about. Utilize the opportunity to educate yourself and make discoveries about the things that interest you.

3. Keep a responsible drafting schedule. Begin thinking about the assignment early. Start each draft with enough time to let your ideas grow and expand. Starting early allows you time to recognize, address, and resolve problems that may arise with the assignment before due dates approach. Give yourself time to do the work and ask questions so you won’t be tempted to borrow material. Drafting allows time for your peers and your instructor to respond to your writing.

4. Know and practice the rules for MLA citation. Refer to The McGraw-Hill Handbook to guide you through using MLA documentation format. Use citations in your paper from the beginning of the process; don’t wait until the final draft. Even if you’re unsure of how to format a citation, try it or at least mark its place in your text. Any source you use must be cited in the text and appear in the Works Cited page. If you have a hard time with citations, ask your instructor about the things you don’t understand.