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Plagiarism (And How to Avoid It): Did I Plagiarize? Infographic Text Only

A guide for avoiding plagiarism designed and created by Clark Librarians

Did I Plagiarize? The Types and Severity of Plagiarism Violations

Did I Plagiarize?

  1. Are you CONFIDENT that your ideas are your own OR that they are so obviously common knowledge (like the face that the earth is round) that you didn’t need to cite any sources?
  2. Did you give credit to ALL original authors for any text you directly quoted?
  3. Did you give credit to ALL original authors for any ideas you summarized or paraphrased, even if you completely changed the wording?
  4. Did you give credit to ALL original artists for any images or graphics you used or referred to?
  5. Are you CONFIDENT that you didn’t distort or misinterpret an author’s or artist’s original meaning when you cited them?
  6. Are you CONFIDENT that the organization and style of your work is your own creation and that you didn’t mimic the style or layout of someone else?
  7. Did you use a proper and recognized citation method OR did you include enough citation information that a reader could locate the original work on his/her own?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions, No! you did not plagiarize.

If you’re confident that what you have written and/or designed is entirely original—in concept, style, structure, diction, and everything else—then you have not plagiarized. Or, if you have used another’s ideas to elaborate on or validate your own, but you cite the original author or artist (and you provide their name and all pertinent information so that your reader could locate the original source on their own), then you are also free or plagiarism violations. Plagiarism-free mean you have recognized any and all individuals or organizations that influenced your thoughts, writings, and designs and that you have made every effort to cite them according to conventional citation practices.

If you answered no to any of the above questions, Yes! you may have plagiarized.

If you couldn’t answer “yes” to ALL of the questions (even if you answered “yes” to all but one), then you are most likely in violation of plagiarism standards. Note that even the slightest of plagiarism infractions is serious. Even if you didn’t mean to plagiarize or you weren’t familiar with all plagiarism standards, you are held accountable. Lack of understanding or intent does not free you from serious penalty. However, not all plagiarism violations are treated with the same severity; some are certainly more severe than others. And repeated infractions, just like with the law, can cause harsher penalties.

How Serious Is It?

  1. Did you steal, copy, or purchase another’s entire document and take full credit for it being your own? If so, this is an identity theft form of plagiarism and insanely severe.
  2. Did you copy large portions (entire paragraphs and sections) of another’s work and not give full credit? If so, this is a copycat form of plagiarism and extremely severe.
  3. Did you cherry-pick a few terms and phrases to change but kept the rest of the text and ideas from another’s work relatively unchanged without giving credit? If so, this is a cherry-pick form of plagiarism and terribly severe.
  4. Did you duplicate (re-use) an entire work of your own for another purpose or publication and not cite yourself? If so, this is a mitosis form of plagiarism and immensely severe.
  5. Did you reuse large portions of a work of your own for another purpose or publication and not cite yourself? If so, this is a recycle form of plagiarism and profoundly severe.
  6. Did you paraphrase multiple sources and stitch them together, making them sound like your own? If so, this is a remix form of plagiarism and hugely severe.
  7. Did you cite a source that doesn’t exist or did you make up what the source actually said? If so, this is a ghost citation form of plagiarism and very, very severe.
  8. Did you cite many sources correctly but not cite others at all? If so, this is a half-n-half form of plagiarism and very severe.
  9. Did you misinterpret or cite a source out of context? If so, this is a warp form of plagiarism and remarkably severe.
  10. Did you cite everything correctly but use very little of your own thought? If so, this is a mosaic form of plagiarism and quite severe.
  11. Did you cite everything correctly but your work still closely reflects another’s? If so, this is a reflection form of plagiarism and notably severe.
  12. Did you make a mistake in your citation? Wrong words, wrong author, or something similar? If so, this is a miscue form of plagiarism and somewhat severe.
  13. Did you mostly cite everything correctly but got a bit sloppy on some and failed to note small things like page numbers or publishers? If so, this is a half-hearted form of plagiarism and mildly severe.



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