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Plagiarism: Overview

Definitions, types, and avoidance techniques

What is plagerism:

" 1. The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft."  Plagiarism. (2011).  Oxford University Press. Retrieved Feb 27, 2012 from  <>

Plagiarism is considered a form of academic dishonesty at Shepherd University.


Intellectual property, "refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce." "What Is Intellectual Property?" (n.d.) . Retrieved  from the World Intellectual Property Organization  website: (Accessed 8/30/2022)

Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are the legal protections granted to idea originators by the government.

For more coverage of copyright and fair use of information, Click Here

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:

No Citation Necessary?

The two sets of ideas that do not require citation are those which are deemed common knowledge and those that are original thoughts of the writer.


Common knowledge (like the sun rises in the East) is known by almost everyone, is usually factual (dates, persons, and the like) and can be found in non-subject specific reference works. As a note, common knowkedge can change from subject area to subject area and as new information becomes available. If uncertain whether a fact, date or piece of information is common knowledge, cite it.



Original thoughts are the ideas, hypotheses, concepts or works you as the writer, artist, inventor or theorist create. These  unique ideas and perspective define and shape your particular communication style and are, in fact, what your professors (and researchers) look for most in an essay, a paper, or a project. 

An exception to this particular rule on original thoughts or ideas not requiring citation exists, of course. (Just like in English grammar, there is almost always an exception to every rule of usage.)




While an author's original thoughts do not need to be cited, if  you wish to use the same ideas, phrasing, or quote from  published work (this includes anything previously turned in for another class or class portion), that work must be cited--because the work is no longer original. (Self-plagiarism is still plagiarism and is handled accordingly.) If uncertain about the re-use of any previously published work in your papers or projects, talk with your professor beforehand--and cite your own work in the new assignment if it is used as a source.


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