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Using Information Sources Ethically and Legally

The guide is designed to help students maintain their academic integrity by using information sources ethically and legally.

UC Videos on Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as follows:

plagiarism, n.

  1. The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft.
  2. A particular idea, piece of writing, design, etc., which has been plagiarized; an act or product of plagiary.

The UC Student Code of Conduct defines plagiarism as:

  • Submitting another’s published or unpublished work in whole, in part or in paraphrase, as one’s own without fully and properly crediting the author with footnotes, quotation marks, citations, or bibliographic references.
  • Submitting as one’s own original work, material obtained from an individual, agency, or the internet without reference to the person, agency or webpage as the source of the material.
  • Submitting as one’s own original work material that has been produced through unacknowledged collaboration with others without release in writing from collaborators
  • Submitting one’s own previously written or oral work without modification and instructor permission.

What actions constitute plagiarism?

In addition to the actions listed in the Code of Conduct the following situations constitute plagiarism:

  • Replacing select words from a passage without giving the original author credit.
  • Copying any type of multimedia (graphics, audio, video, Internet streams, data, computer programs, music compositions, graphs, charts, etc.) from someone else's work without giving the original creator credit.
  • Cutting and pasting together phrases, ideas, and sentences from a variety of sources to write an essay.
  • Building on someone else's idea or phrase to write your paper without giving the original author credit.
  • Using material translated from another language without acknowledgement.

The Plagiarism Spectrum 2.0 from Turnitin identifies twelve types of unoriginal work — both traditional forms of plagiarism and emerging trends.

Infografic showing 12 kinds of plagiarism

Download the complete infographic to see the explanation of each type of unoriginal work.


A simple visual guide

Elements of plagiarism

  1. an object (language, words, text)
  2. which has been taken (borrowed, stolen, etc)
  3. from a particular source (books, journals, Internet)
  4. by an agent (student, academic, etc.)
  5. without (adequate) acknowledgement
  6. with or without intention to deceive

(Pecorari, D. (2002). Original reproductions: An investigation of the source use of postgraduate language writers. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Birmingham)

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