Content from "Know How"


1. Is plagiarism illegal?

Yes, see Massachusetts Common Laws Ch. 271, § 50

2. What is the University policy against plagiarism?

Under the University Policy and Rules for Academic Dishonesty, Cheating and Plagiarism UMass Lowell defines plagiarism as: 

1). Direct quotation or word-for-word copying of all part of the work of another without identification and acknowledgement of the quoted work. 
2). Extensive use of acknowledged quotations from the work of others joined together by a few words or lines of one's own text. 
3). An abbreviated restatement of someone else's analysis or conclusion, however skillfully paraphrased, without acknowledgement that another person's text has been the basis for the recapitulation. 
University of Massachusetts Lowell. Academic Rules and Regulations. Academic Dishonesty, Cheating, and Plagiarism: Click Here to Access Directly. Accessed September 9, 2009.

Plagiarism is often unintentional. But it is plagiarism nonetheless. This could be as simple as forgetting to properly cite the source of a quote or an idea. More often than not, citing the source of information will remedy the situation.

3. What is citing?

Citing a source provides the reader with the information necessary to easily identify and find the source you are referring to. A citation contains specific information and typically includes: author, book or article title, date and publisher for books and and journal title, volume, date and pages for journals.
See Introduction to Citations:


The Astronomical Almanac. Livingston, William. Sun In Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering: Marcel Dekker: New York, 2003; vol 3; pp.2717-2730. 

Lukiesh, A. Radiant Energy and the Eye. Electr. World. 1913, 62, 844-846. 

Yarbus, A. L. Eye Movement and Vision: Plenum: New York, 1967.


4. What are the consequences of plagiarism?

All of these are possible consequences of plagiarism:

  • Instant F in the course; lowering your overall GPA
  • Loss of scholarships and/or visas
  • Embarrassment
  • Job Termination
  • Expulsion
  • Fine, jail time, or both

Examples of Consequences:
1. Students at the University of Georgia who used phrases from an article that appeared in the school newspaper ten years earlier were held back from graduation. (The Quill 92.5 June-July 2004):63 

2. In addition, well-known authors such as Charles Ogletree, historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose have faced public embarrassment and damage to their careers when their plagiarism was widely reported in the media.

5. Tips For Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Keep careful records and notes.
  • Get in the habit of writing down the full citation.
  • Always include the citation information in your notes and first draft.
  • ALWAYS use quotations marks for direct quotes.
  • Clearly mark things that you have paraphrased or intend to paraphrase, indicating which is which.
  • Print or photocopy the source you are using, and double check that your have not accidently plagiarized before submitting your work.
  • When paraphrasing, read the original, put it out of sight, and write the ideas down in your own words.

6. Can a professor spot plagiarism?

Yes, easily. 

  • There are numerous plagiarism detection services available for free and online.
  • In addition, faculty members have been known to find examples of plagiarism simply by typing in a phrase or two from a student's paper into a commercial search engine.
  • Faculty are often very attuned to changes in the tone, vocabulary or style of their students' writing. We all have our own easily identifiable style. When two or three phrases within a paper stand out because they are different from the rest, this is a clue that tunes faculty into the possibility that a "cut and paste" copy has taken place.
  • Similarity to current or previous student's work is another clue.
  • Findings, final conclusions, and/or use of jargon that is inconsistent with a students' expected level of knowledge is also a clue. In addition, faculty are well aware of the available lab facilities, equipment, techniques, and/or timeframe of the project to discern whether honest work was done.

7. Examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying something verbatim, that is, using the author's exact words and not enclosing them in quotation marks or blocking off the passage and citing the source.
  • Paraphrasing without proper attribution. Paraphrasing is putting another person's words or ideas into your own words, often by using synonyms and/or changing the sentence structure. Although you are using your own words, you are expressing another person's ideas while not making it clear how much has been paraphrased.
  • Using part or all of a paper written by another without a proper citation even if you paid them or had their permission. No one can give another person permission to plagiarize.
  • Submitting the same paper or part of the same paper, even if it is your own work, in more than one course.
  • Copying or rearranging graphs, music, emails, illustrations, videos, charts etc. without citing them.
  • Inaccurate quotations or paraphrases

8. What is Not Plagiarism?

It is NOT plagiarism when you state things that are common knowledge, such as well-known facts, folklore, frequently used proverbs or sayings, information that can be documented in multiple sources, e.g. six or more standard reference books, or facts you expect the reader to already know or are readily apparent. 
Examples: [Not Plagiarism] 

  • Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. 
  • It's better to be safe than sorry. 
  • Women have two X chromosomes; men have an X and a Y.

9. What Can You Do If You are Unfairly Accused of Plagiarism?

  • Keep good records of where you found your material and don't discard them until after your work has been returned.
  • Ask to see evidence, i.e. the source you are suspected of plagiarizing along with the work you submitted.