What is Plagiarism?:
To Cite or Not to Cite? Part 1 of 5

What is Plagiarism?

Learning Outcome: By the end of the lesson, the student will be able to


Approximate Completion Time: 15 minutes

**To receive credit for completing this tutorial you must complete the online assessment provided by your instructor.**



This tutorial works best in Mozilla Firefox.

It cannot save your place, so please take note of the approximate completion time above and either work on it when you have time to finish or keep track of where you were.


If you encounter technical problems, please copy the error message and send it with a description of the problem to lking@valenciacollege.edu


Defining Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using someone else's words, ideas, pictures or other original content without acknowledgment.

Students often think that it is not a big deal to

without acknowledging the source of the words, picture or idea.

But all of these uses are plagiarism, and plagiarism can have severe consequences.

At Valencia (and most colleges in the United States) plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty.

You will notice throughout this tutorial we cite all images and words that are not our own. The figure and its citation below are examples of following the rules for citation.


Figure 1. Image of Academic Dishonesty Policy Statement. Adapted from Valencia College. Office of Policy and General Counsel. (2007, December 11). Policy: 6Hx28:8-11:

Academic dishonesty policy statement. Retrieved from http://valenciacollege.edu/generalcounsel/policy/documents/8-11-Academic-Dishonesty.pdf


The full text of Valencia's Policy for Academic Dishonesty can be found here.


The possible penalties for academic dishonesty at Valencia include:


Intellectual Property or Why is Plagiarism a Big Deal?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as follows: "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft."

The idea of plagiarism as theft is an important one in American academic culture; it stems from the concept of intellectual property.

Western cultures, such as those of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, commonly value intellectual property. Intellectual property is the idea that a person or organization can own a idea, a phrase, an essay, a song, a particular photograph, etc. Ideas can be owned even if the owner decides to make the idea freely available on the Internet. For instance a band might decide to release a video of a particular song on YouTube. Despite making that video available the band still owns the content, and people finding that video on YouTube cannot claim ownership or use that video any way they please. If you took a video from YouTube, put it on your own web site and tried to sell it, you would find yourself in court defending yourself against a law suit.

Watch this 4 minute video on why plagiarism is such a big deal in college and the workplace.

Note: This video may take a moment to load.



Famous Plagiarism Cases


Famous Plagiarism Cases

Photograph of Katy Perry

Accusations of plagiarism come up frequently in politics, journalism, music, movies and other areas as well as education.


Some famous people who have been accused of plagiarism are:


Jayson Blair, former New York Times columnist.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian.

James Cameron, film director.

Kaavya Viswanathan, Harvard student writer.

Australian band Men at Work.

Katy Perry, singer.


A Google news search on "plagiarism" is sure to turn up hundreds of articles. 




A photograph of singer Katy Perry performing a song.

Figure 2. Photo of Katy Perry. Reprinted from Defoe, D. (2008, July 18). Katy Perry [Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetoad01/2680949005/ Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical 2.0 Generic license.


Examples of Plagiarism

Copying phrases without citing.

Copying sentences without citing.

Paraphrasing without citing. (Putting an idea into your own words.)

Summarizing without citing. (Giving an overview of another person's ideas.)

Copying charts, graphs or videos to use in your presentation without citing.

Reusing an assignment you created for a previous class in your current class without permission from both instructors (Self-plagiarism).

Copying an entire paper.

Purchasing an entire paper from a web site.

Sometimes asking a friend/relative/classmate for help on your paper can also result in plagiarism, depending on how much and what kind of help that person gives you.

Bottom line: If you use someone else's words, ideas, or creative work without citing it, you have plagiarized.


Why is Plagiarism a Big Deal? Part II

Coming back to the classroom environment at Valencia, if you understand that your professors think of plagiarism as literary theft, you can understand why plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and has such severe consequences. College assignments are meant to prepare you for the types of challenges you will meet in your professional lives. Students need to be able to think critically about information and make sense of it independently to be successful in college and the workplace.

Watch this 4 minute video clip that will further introduce the concepts of plagiarism and intellectual property.

Note: This video may take a moment to load.


Sources Used in this Module - Cited in APA Format



Films Media Group. (2011). Plagiarism 2.0: Information ethics in the digital age [H.264]. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com 


Plagiarism. Def. 1. (2009). In Oxford English dictionary online. Retrieved from http://www.oup.com 


Valencia College. Office of Policy and General Counsel. (2007, December 11). Policy: 6Hx28:8-11: Academic dishonesty policy statement.


Retrieved from http://valenciacollege.edu/generalcounsel/policy/documents/8-11-Academic-Dishonesty.pdf


Your instructor will provide the link to the online assessment. You must take the assessment to receive credit for completing this tutorial.