What it is, how it happens, and how to avoid it.

Types of Plagiarism


Students may be tempted to purchase an essay online, borrow a classmate's paper and change a few words, or copy passages directly from textbooks, websites, or scholarly articles. However, plagiarism is considered fraud and theft of others' intellectual property. 


  • Students who purposefully plagiarize violate the college's Code of Conduct and can face disciplinary measures.
  • Students who plagiarize may be suspended, failed from the course to which they submitted the work, or even expelled from the college.
  • Students who plagiarize are not learning. Professors can't observe where their students need further instruction and help.
  • Plagiarized individuals are not getting credit for their work and effort.


Plagiarism can occur accidentally, if students are unaware of proper citation methods and attribution (giving credit to the author of the resource).

  • The tutors at the Center for Reading and Writing can help students learn to paraphrase and write without plagiarizing. 


Copyright law is the law that protects intellectual property. To plagiarize is to violate the copyright protections placed on a work or idea. For more information about copyright, visit the Copyright Guide: 

MLA: Humanities Citation Style

For humanities courses such as literature and writing, MLA citation style is generally preferred. Visit the Center for Reading and Writing (CRW) for help with citations:
Additional resources for learning how to use the MLA citation style:

APA: Sciences Citation Style

The American Psychological Association (APA) citation style is used primarily by the sciences, both social sciences and hard sciences.

The CRW is a good place to start for help with citations. 

Additional resources for learning how to use the APA citation style:

When Do I Cite?

Always cite your sources when you...:

  • quote two or more words verbatim, or even one word if it is used in a way that is unique to the source. 
  • introduce facts that you have found in a source. 
  • paraphrase or summarize ideas, interpretations, or conclusions that you find in a source.
  • introduce information that is not common knowledge or that may be considered common knowledge in your field, but the reader may not know it.
  • borrow the plan or structure of a larger section of a source’s argument (for example, using a theory from a source and analyzing the same three case studies that the source uses). 
  • build on another’s method found either in a source or from collaborative work in a lab. 
  • you build on another’s program in writing computer code or on a not-commonly-known algorithm. 
  • collaborate with others in producing knowledge. 

From: Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. "Warning: When You Must Cite". Poorvu Center,    [This citation is in MLA style!]

Avoiding Plagiarism

If the words, images or ideas are not yours, they're someone else's.

Make sure to attribute (give credit to) your sources. It's the ethical thing to do, and gives respect and honor to previous researchers.  

Books in SUNY Adirondack Library

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The College Student's Research Companion

Z710 .Q37 2011

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Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles

Located at Library Reference Desk

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