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

Types of Plagiarism


Students wishing to lessen their work load or finish an assignment more quickly might purchase an essay online, borrow a classmate's paper and change a few words, or copy passages directly from textbooks, websites, or scholarly articles.


  • 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 aren't getting a clear image of where their students are in the learning process in order to see where their students need further instruction and help.
  • The individuals being plagiarized are not getting credit for the work and time they put into creating the resource being copied.


Plagiarism can occur accidentally as well, due to being ignorant of proper methods of citation and attribution (giving credit to the individual/entity that created the resource).


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 the humanities, such as literature and writing courses, MLA citation style is generally preferred. 

The Center for Reading and Writing (CRW) is a good place to start for citation resources:

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:

Avoiding Plagiarism

If the words, images or ideas are not yours, they're someone else's. Make sure to give credit to your sources. It's the ethical thing to do, and gives respect and honor to previous researchers.  

SUNY Adirondack's Student Code of Conduct includes statements about plagiarism. There can be serious repercussions. 

  • Click the link > hit CTRL/F > type plagiarism > find that word throughout the document.

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!]

Books in SUNY Adirondack Library

Cover art

The College Student's Research Companion

Z710 .Q37 2011

Cover art

Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles

Located at Library Reference Desk

Meet Your Librarian

Profile Photo
Joyce A. Miller
Above: Joyce on college's 2017 trip to Ecuador, with live volcano Cotopaxi.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Library Science; Part-time Reference Librarian (two days a week during Spring & Fall semesters). Liaison to Business and Science Divisions.
SUNY Adirondack, 640 Bay Road Queensbury NY 12804
(Please call me Joyce, or Professor Miller.)

Email or