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Plagiarism: HAZARDS--Dangers of Plagiarism

Definitions, types, and avoidance techniques

Academic Consequences

As at all places of higher education, Shepherd University does not condone plagiarism at any time from anyone.

Students (and faculty) are expected to present their own findings in their own words and any work submitted must be original with proper credit given to others where and when it is used. Failure to perform these responsibilities is considered a serious offense, as affirmed in the Shepherd University Catalog.

Further discussion of academic integrity and possible consequences for dishonesty are listed and spelled out in the Shepherd University Student Handbook on the following pages: 114, 148-149, and 154, both in the print version and in PDF.

Unintentional Plagiarism

Unintentional plagiarism is the bane of every research paper writer.

You spent hours tracking down sources for the bibliography, used an idea, and thought you had attributed something correctly. only to find out that your attribution is incorrect or not there. Mistakes do happen.

Accidental or not, the consequences for the offense of plagiarism are the same as those of intentional breaches of academic integrity because it is expected that you, as a good researcher and author, have in fact,  done the following:

  • Proofread the paper, looking not only at spelling and grammar, but also proper citations in the correct style of your paper's discipline
  • Edited the work if necessary to include clear attributions both in the paper and in the bibliography or works cited
  • Double (or triple) checked your work and source attributions for each source in the paper, taking none of them for granted.

There is no "gray area" in academic research when it comes to acknowledging another person's ideas: there was either credit properly given or there was plagiarism. 

Plagiarism Types

Two general types of plagiarism exist: the first is where a citation is absent completely (not giving credit where appropriate) and the second is where a citation exists but is incorrect or misleading or the original words, thoughts and ideas of the person using those citations is not present in the work.Below is a table giving three examples of each type of plagiarism.

No Citation Given

Incorrect or Overwhelming Use of Citations

Direct Copying, no citation

Citation done but deliberately misleading

Paraphrase, no citation

Correct citation in one portion of paper (in paper or works cited) but citation is not present in the other location.

Self-plagiarism (the reuse of one's previously published thought, idea, concept without proper citation)

Cited all sources properly—where is author’s thought, idea, original concept?

For those interested in all the major varieties of plagiarism, the following link is available:

Post-Educational Consequences

Plagiarism doesn't just occur in academics, it happens in any creative field: art, music, authorship of fiction or non-fiction, oratory (public speaking), game design, et cetera); see the Not Just An Academic Issue section in the Additional Resources page  of this libguide for details and examples.

Two consequences  of plagiarism outside of academia are highlighted here: litigation (legal action, usually a civil suit) and bad press.


As an example, here is information about a suit brought against George Harrison for plagiarism and copyright infringement by Bright Tunes in 1972. This Youtube video has the clips of Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" for comparison.


Even if litigation does not occur (and often concurrently when it does), reputations can be destroyed by the charge of plagiarism (if the charge is proved--or repeated--the outcry is worse) and the respect and trust people had for your labor comes into question.

In this article from 2002, historian Stephen Ambrose is examined and the question of plagiarism throughout his work is considered.