The Plagiarism Page

Forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism in my courses includes but is not limited to:

  • The use of another person’s academic work, in part or in total, without giving credit
  • Unauthorized collaboration, regardless of credit given (i.e. group work)
  • Representing another person’s work, in part or in total, as your own
  • Changing the sentence structure, word order, or word choice of another’s work in a superficial way so as to pass off another person’s ideas, research, or writing style as your own

The “Common Knowledge” Clause

Material does not have to be cited if it is common knowledge—that is, knowledge that most American high school graduates already know. (E.g. Humans once painted in caves. Berlin is the capital of Germany. Etc.)

The “Textbook" Clause

Material does not have to be cited if both of these points are true:

  • If the information contained in a student’s work is found in a course textbook or other assigned reading
  • And, if that information is presented in such a way that the work is not basically copying the reading material word–for–word.

For example, if a student's textbook lists the Stone Age as beginning in 3,000 BCE, then student can simply include this date. But, if a student copied full sentences from the textbook, then that would be plagiarism.

The “10% Rule”

As a general rule, a college assignment is considered an original work only if the vast majority of text is original. Generally, no more than 10% of a work can be someone else’s words, regardless of proper quotes or citation.


When reviewing a possible case of plagiarism, the student’s intent will not be taken into consideration. In other words, an act of plagiarism is plagiarism whether or not the student claims to have intended plagiarism.

Mistakes & Accidents

The possibility that the student mistakenly or accidentally committed plagiarism will not be taken into consideration. I strongly suggest that you discuss your sources with the Writing Center before turning in work.

Appeal to Ignorance

A student’s claim to ignorance with concern to policy will never be treated as a valid justification of plagiarism.


Students are not permitted to collaborate on an essay, discussion post, quiz, test, or any written assignment. Having someone proofread your work is ok, but that can only entail matters of style, grammar, and spelling.

Disciplinary Action for Plagiarism

Per departmental policy, the first offense of plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment. Any additional acts of plagiarism will result in an F for the course and possible disciplinary action by the Dean (e.g. expulsion).