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Law Student Guide to Identifying & Preventing Plagiarism

This guide will help you identify and prevent plagiarism.

What Is Plagiarism?

Defining Plagiarism

Black's Law Dictionary defines plagiarism as "[t]he deliberate and knowing presentation of another person's original ideas or creative expressions as one's own; the wrongful appropriation of another's expression of ideas, or of the ideas themselves, by slight variation of expression...." Plagiarism, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). Although Black's Law Dictionary's first clause identifies plagiarism as "deliberate and knowing," plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. You can even plagiarize yourself! In today's world of cutting and pasting, it can be easy to commit plagiarism.  

University of Cincinnati Student Handbook

The University of Cincinnati Student Handbook describes plagiarism as:

(d) Plagiarism

(i) Submitting another's published or unpublished work in whole, in part or in paraphrase, as one's own without fully and properly crediting the author with footnotes, quotation marks, citations, or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.

(ii) 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.

(iii) Submitting as one's own original work material that has been produced through unacknowledged collaboration with others without release in writing from collaborators.

(iv) Submitting one's own previously written, oral, or creative work without modification and instructor permission.

College of Law Honor Code

It is also a violation of the College of Law Honor Code to plagiarize. The Honor Code states that "[e]ach assignment must be the product of the student’s own efforts" and that students cannot knowingly have "plagiarized material or in some way represented another’s work as the student’s own..."

The Legal Writing Institute

According to The Legal Writing Institute, students should use the following rules:

1. Acknowledge direct use of someone else’s words.

2. Acknowledge any paraphrase of someone else’s words.

 3. Acknowledge direct use of someone else’s idea. 

Careful scholarship, which is especially important in an academic setting, requires adhering to two additional rules:

4. Acknowledge a source when your own analysis or conclusion builds on that source.

5. Acknowledge a source when your idea about a legal opinion came from a source other than the opinion itself.

The Legal Writing Institute, Law School Plagiarism v. Proper Attribution 4 (2003)

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