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What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking someone else's words, ideas, or work and passing them off as your own. 

Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional and can happen in many different ways, including:

  • Turning in someone else's completed work as if it was your own. This includes assignments/papers you hand in that were completed/written by a classmate, friend, or family member
  • Copying significant portions of a single text without using quotations and providing a citation
  • Changing select words or phrases but keeping the essential structure and essence of a passage
  • Using false or inaccurate citations
  • Using images, audio, or video for any purpose without giving credit to the original creator
  • Using statistics without citing the original source
  • Buying a paper online or written by someone else

RVCC Statement of Academic Integrity

Raritan Valley Community College defines academic integrity as a commitment to independent, original, and honest work. Students are expected to conduct themselves with scholarly integrity. Each incident of academic dishonesty, cheating or plagiarism will be reported to the Divisional Dean and may result in penalties, suspension or dismissal.      

Academic Dishonesty and Cheating

Examples of academic dishonesty and cheating violations include, but are not limited to:      

  • Copying graded and ungraded homework assignments from another student.
  • Working together on an assignment that the faculty member has clearly indicated is an individual assignment.
  • Looking at another student’s paper during an exam.
  • Copying another student’s computer program, class project, or assignment, and submitting it as one’s own.
  • Stealing or borrowing all or part of an exam’s questions or answers.
  • Entering a computer file without authorization.
  • Giving someone answers to exam questions before an exam or while the exam is being given.
  • Giving or selling an assignment, term paper, report, drawing, or computer program to another student for submission to the faculty member.
  • Deceiving a faculty member to improve one’s grade.
  • Falsifying data or a source of information.
  • Unauthorized use of any technology to gain access to test answers, test questions or prohibited materials such as notes, online databases and websites during a test.
  • Submitting work for a grade that the student already submitted in another class or previous semester without the current faculty member’s permission.
  • Submitting work from one course into a second course without permission from the current faculty member.


Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • Copying answers from a textbook, website, or any other print/digital source, to submit for a grade without citations and presenting them as their own.
  • Using the instructor edition of a textbook for assignment answers without faculty authorization to do so.
  • Quoting text or other works without appropriate citations.
  • Submitting work obtained from a term paper service or taken from the Internet.
  • Submitting work written by someone else as one’s own.
  • Submitting another student’s work as one’s own.
  • Submitting a paper wholly or in substantial part using the exact phrasing of source material.
  • Submitting a paper closely paraphrased from source material, where the original source material is simply edited with perhaps minor word changes occurring.
  • Submitting a paper closely paraphrased from source material, splicing together sentences from scattered segments of the original. ​
  • Making up information and citations.

Read the full Code of Student Conduct. See page 40.

10 Most Common Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is not always a black and white issue. The boundary between plagiarism and research is often unclear. Learning to recognize the various forms of plagiarism, especially the more ambiguous ones, is an important step towards effective prevention.

As part of the Plagiarism Spectrum project, a May 2012 survey of nearly 900 secondary and higher education instructors was also conducted to assess the frequency with which these types appear as well as the degree to which each type is problematic for instructors. Click here to see the top 10 most common types of plagiarism.

Glossary of Plagiarism Terms

This list originally from


The acknowledgement that something came from another source. The following sentence properly attributes an idea to its original author:

Jack Bauer, in his article "Twenty-Four Reasons not to Plagiarize," maintains that cases of plagiarists being expelled by academic institutions have risen dramatically in recent years due to an increasing awareness on the part of educators.


A list of sources used in preparing a work


  • A short, formal indication of the source of information or quoted material.
  • The act of quoting material or the material quoted.
  • See our section on citation styles for more information.


  • to indicate a source of information or quoted material in a short, formal note.
  • to quote
  • to ascribe something to a source.
  • See our section on citation styles for more information.


Information that is readily available from a number of sources or so well-known that its sources do not have to be cited.

The fact that carrots are a source of Vitamin A is common knowledge, and you could include this information in your work without attributing it to a source. However, any information regarding the effects of Vitamin A on the human body are likely to be the products of original research and would have to be cited.


A law protecting the intellectual property of individuals, giving them exclusive rights over the distribution and reproduction of that material.


Notes at the end of a paper acknowledging sources and providing additional references or information.


Knowledge or information based on real, observable occurrences.

Just because something is a fact does not mean it is not the result of original thought, analysis, or research. Facts can be considered intellectual property as well. If you discover a fact that is not widely known nor readily found in several other places, you should cite the source.


The guidelines for deciding whether the use of a source is permissible or constitutes a copyright infringement.

See What is Fair Use? for more information.


Notes at the bottom of a paper acknowledging sources or providing additional references or information.


A product of the intellect, such as an expressed idea or concept, that has commercial value.


  • Not derived from anything else, new and unique
  • Markedly departing from previous practice
  • The first, preceding all others in time
  • The source from which copies are made


A restatement of a text or passage in other words.

It is extremely important to note that changing a few words from an original source does NOT qualify as paraphrasing. A paraphrase must make significant changes in the style and voice of the original while retaining the essential ideas. If you change the ideas, then you are not paraphrasing -- you are misrepresenting the ideas of the original, which could lead to serious trouble.


The reproduction or appropriation of someone else's work without proper attribution; passing off as one's own the work of someone else


The absence of copyright protection; belonging to the public so that anyone may copy or borrow from it. For more information, see our section on What is public domain?


Using words from another source.


Copying material you have previously produced and passing it off as a new production.

This can potentially violate copyright protection if the work has been published and is banned by most academic policies.