University Policies and Procedures
- Define plagiarism
- Given situations of common problems that arise in written work
and in oral presentations, the learner will describe approaches
that acknowledge the ideas of others.
- Given brief descriptions of a range of actions that may constitute
plagiarism, the learner will indicate 1) the extent to which colleagues
(or research ethics "experts") are likely to consider
the act as an instance of plagiarism, and 2) distinguish likely
from unlikely potential remedies for the offense.
University Policies and Procedures
First and Only Principle:
Do not steal the words or ideas of another.
Definition of Plagiarism
"The spectrum is a wide one. At one end there is a word-for-word
copying of another’s writing without enclosing the copied
passage in quotation marks and identifying it in a footnote, both
of which are necessary . . . . It hardly seems possible that anyone
of college age or more could do that without clear intent to deceive.
At the other end there is the almost casual slipping in of a particularly
apt term which one has come across in reading and which so admirably
expresses one’s opinion that one is tempted to make it personal
property. Between these poles there are degrees and degrees, but
they may be roughly placed in two groups. Close to outright and
blatant deceit—but more the result, perhaps, of laziness
than of bad intent—is the patching together of random jottings
made in the course of reading, generally without careful identification
of their source, and then woven into the text, so that the result
is a mosaic of other people’s ideas and words, the writer’s
sole contribution being the cement to hold the pieces together.
Indicative of more effort and, for that reason, somewhat closer
to honesty, though still dishonest, is the paraphrase, an abbreviated
(and often skillfully prepared) restatement of someone else’s
analysis or conclusions without acknowledgement that another person’s
text has been the basis for the recapitulation." Martin et
AAUP, 1989; Salazar, M. K., 1993.
B6 and B7 from "Teaching the responsible conduct of research
through a case study approach; A handbook for instructors".
Association of American Medical Colleges, 1994.
Also: "A case of plagiarism" from "On being a scientist;
Responsible conduct in research" National Academy Press, Washington,
D.C., 1995, p. 18.
Dr. Alice Charles, a mid-career scientist, was revising and updating
a book chapter. This led her to review other articles on the same
subject to help determine what new material to cover. During the
course of her reading, she came upon a chapter in a major text
by Dr. Chris Long, a departmental chair at a leading medical school
that contained long passages from her previous chapter without
Dr. Charles called Dr. Long and confronted him with her finding.
At first, he vehemently denied having used any of Dr. Charles’s
text inappropriately. Dr. Charles then faxed Dr. Long copies of
the offending passages. After some delay, Dr. Long finally responded,
acknowledging that the language was indeed remarkably similar.
Dr. Long noted that he had engaged younger members of his research
group to write portions of the chapter because he was very busy
at the time that the deadline was approaching. Furthermore, to
defend himself, he pointed out that much of the original research
on which her chapter was based was derived from the work of his
laboratory. He admitted only to negligence in not adequately monitoring
the activities of his subordinates.
Dr. Charles replied that the subordinates were not acknowledged
in Dr. Long’s chapter either, and that admission of plagiarism
required more than a apology. She indicated her intention to report
the matter to Dr. Long’s dean and the editor of the text.
- Did Dr. Charles act appropriately? Would you have done anything
differently? Considering the difference in status between herself
and Dr. Long, was she taking a professional risk?
- Did Dr. Long do anything wrong? What if he were copying his
own revious writings?
- How would you have handled this matter if you were Dr. Long
and were confronted with Dr. Charles’s revelations?
- If you were Dr. Long’s dean, how would you handle Dr.
Charles’s letter, which contained copies of the plagiarized
- Upon hearing Dr. Charles ’s complaint, what would you
do as editor of Dr. Long’s textbook?
Maurice LaCroix, a postdoctoral fellow at a research-intensive
medical school, was asked by faculty member Dr. Frank Hardy to
co-author an in-depth review article on hemolytic anemias for
a leading medical journal. Publishing this chapter was important
for Maurice because it would establish his credibility in the
field and give him professional exposure. Maurice felt that preparation
of this chapter would be easy because he would be referring substantially
to his own recent research and to that of Dr. Hardy’s laboratory.
He had all the data and papers on disk.
Shortly after the issue appeared, Dr. Hardy was called by Dr.
John Barrett, a colleague and co-author on many papers that Maurice
and Dr. Hardy previously published jointly. "You plagiarized
me," he said. "You have no right to extract whole passages
from our papers without quotation marks, even if you did reference
the papers in the text. It’s as though my contribution never
existed. You should have specifically acknowledged the directly
quoted text or made me a co-author of the review. Besides, you
need permission from the publisher to reprint material verbatim."
Maurice was shocked when he heard this. He looked back at the
review and papers and found that he indeed had utilized whole
sentences from the papers and one whole paragraph describing the
methods. However, although the three individuals had collaborated,
it was Maurice who actually wrote the sections in question and
who submitted the papers in which they were contained. In addition,
he had been the senior author on two of the key papers.
Maurice called Dr. Barrett to apologize and indicated that there
are only so many ways to say the same thing. Unmollified, Dr.
Barrett said that he planned to call the editor of the journal
and inform him of the plagiarism.
- Was Dr. Barrett’s complaint legitimate?
- Do you believe Maurice’s actions constituted plagiarism?
- To what extent were Maurice and Dr. Hardy each responsible
for the contents of the chapter? Could Dr. Hardy be partly responsible
for the situation that developed?
- Assume that Dr. Hardy brought the matter to the attention
of the medical school dean. If you were the dean how would you
handle it? If Maurice admitted to inadvertent plagiarism, what
kind of sanctions would you, as dean, be inclined to consider?
- If you were the journal editor and received a letter from
Dr. Barrett describing the situation given in the case, what
would you do?
- Dr. Barrett asked Dr. Hardy to rectify the situation. What
would you suggest?
A Case for Plagiarism
May is a second-year graduate student preparing the written portion
of her qualifying exam. She incorporates whole sentences and paragraphs
verbatim from several published papers. She does not use quotation
marks, but the sources are suggested by statements like "(see
. . . for more details)." The faculty on the qualifying exam
committee note inconsistencies in the writing styles of different
paragraphs of the text and check the sources, uncovering May’s
After discussion with the faculty, May’s plagiarism is
brought to the attention of the dean of the graduate school, whose
responsibility it is to review such incidents. The graduate school
regulations state that "plagiarism, that is, the failure
in a dissertation, essay, or other written exercise to acknowledge
ideas, research or language taken from others" is specifically
prohibited. The dean expels May from the program with the stipulation
that she can reapply for the next academic year.
- Is plagiarism like this a common practice?
- Are there circumstances that should have led to May’s
being forgiven for plagiarizing?
- Should May be allowed to reapply to the program?
- University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Research, Research and Sponsored Projects website:
- Martin, H. C., R. M. Ohmann and J. Wheatley. 1969. The logic
and rhetoric of Exposition. 3rd Ed. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
- Kock, N. 1999. A case of Academic Plagiarism. Communications
of the ACM, 42:96-104.
"What's to stop someone-desperate to fulfill a publishing
quota-from copying an article posted on a publicly available webpage
repackaging it under another byline, and resubmitting it to another
- American Association of University Professors. "Statement
on Plagiarism." Academe, Vol. 75, No. 5 (September/October
1989), pp. 47-48.
The AAUP, a major voice for university faculty, defines plagiarism
in this page and a half statement as "taking over the ideas,
methods, or written words of another, without acknowledgment and
with the intention that they be taken as the work of the deceiver."
The statement also outlines the precepts of faculty responsibility
to address plagiarism.
- Griffin, G. C., M.D. "Don’t Plagiarize—Even
Yourself!" (editorial) Postgraduate Medicine, Vol. 89, No.
4 (March 1991), pp. 15-16.
By way of anecdote, this editorial alerts the reader to the problem
of copying from one ’s own written works. Among other reasons
not to engage in the practice, the reader is alerted to the fact
that prior published materials generally do not belong to the
author, but instead to the publishing house that holds the copyright.
- Salazar, M. K., Ed.D. "Using the Words and Works of Others:
A Commentary." Research Corner, AAOHN Journal, Vol. 41, No.
1 (January 1993), pp. 46-49.
This article discusses what actions may constitute plagiarism
and why plagiarism may occur. Guidelines for proper referencing,
adapted from Markham, are provided.
For discussions of plagiarism in non-scientific areas see:
- Fruman, N. The Damaged Archangel.
A documentation and discussion of the worst plagiarist and one
of the greatest poets of the 19th century, Coleridge.
- Venuti, L.. The awful crime of I.U. Tarchetti: Plagiarism as
propaganda. In N.Y. Times Book Review; Aug.23, 1992, page 7.
A discussion of unattributed translation as plagiarism.