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General Writing Guide: Plagiarism

This Guide is intended to help students with various aspects of the general writing process from citation and formatting in both APA and MLA , Grammar, Plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?


According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to "plagiarize" means: Research Paper Image
  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own 
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source 
  • to commit literary theft 
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

Plagiarism Tutorial

Plagiarism InfoGraphic

The TurnItIn Plagiarism Spectrum (from TurnItIn)
  1. Cloning - Submitting another's work, word-for-word, as one's own.
  2. Ctrl-C - Contains significant portions of text from a single source without alterations.
  3. Find - Replace - Changing key words and phrases but retaining the essential content of the source.
  4. Remix -  Paraphrases from multiple sources, made to fit together.
  5. Recycle - Borrows generously from the writer's previous work without citation.
  6. Hybrid - Combines perfectly cited sources with copied passages without citation.
  7. Mashup - Mixes copied material from multiple sources.
  8. 404 Error - Includes citations to non-existent or inaccurate information about sources.
  9. Aggregator - Includes proper citation to sources but the paper contains almost no original work.
  10. Re-Tweet - Includes proper citation, but relies too closely on the text's original wording and/or structure.

Below is a brief but clear video from George Mason University Office of Academic Integrity explaining Self-Plagiarism. 

TurnItIn Tools You Can Use

If you are preparing your assignment in Google Docs (or you may upload your assignment in Google Docs to utilize this), Turnitin, the same software that your professors use in Canvas to check for Plagiarism has now developed a user friendly student Draft Coach.

Turnitin Draft Coach is a plagiarism tool that provides you with the ability to use Turnitin’s similarity tools in your Google Docs to help you work towards the final draft of your assignment before you submit to your teacher.  

Note: This does not take the place of submitting an assignment in Canvas.  It is a tool to be used to check work before it is submitted.

Understanding Turnitin Draft Coach

How to Use Turnitin Draft Coach 

Draft Coach Instructions for Students

This student-focused guide explains features and important information included on the Turnitin Similarity Report, as well as guidance for using the information from that report to inform changes to student work and discussions with instructors.

Six steps for effective paraphrasing
  1. Become familiar with vocabulary and ideas around the topic
  2. Determine the big picture by reading and rereading the passage
  3. Ask yourself, “What does this mean?”
  4. Paraphrase the text aloud with a partner
  5. Change sentence structure, voice, or rephrase
    • Compare with the original text
    • Credit the author with citation
  6. Read, Think, Restate

From the TurnItIn Paraphrasing Lesson Presentation PowerPoint.