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How to Recognize Plagiarism

Criteria Used for Indiana University Plagiarism Tests

Decision rules and test hints are provided below. These are the criteria which you should apply when taking the Indiana University Plagiarism test. These will help you to decide if a student version is word-for-word plagiarism, paraphrasing plagiarism, or not plagiarism.

The criteria listed below are not the only valid criteria for classifying plagiarism in every context. However, applying the criteria listed below should help you to be successful in the context of Indiana University Plagiarism Tests.

Decision Rules

Does the student version take ideas from the original source material?

Yes

No

Is at least one idea taken from the original source material a direct word-for-word quote of seven or more words in the student version?

 

Yes

No

Is the direct word-for-word quote missing either quotation marks, or missing the full in-text citation that includes a specific locator, or missing the reference in the student version?

Is the paraphrased idea missing the in-text citation or missing the reference in the student version?

Yes

No

Yes

No

The student version is:
Word-for-word plagiarism

The student version is:
Not plagiarism

The student version is:
Paraphrasing plagiarism

The student version is:
Not plagiarism

The student version is:
Not plagiarism

For another way of viewing this, see Hints.

Plagiarism Test Notes

  1. Some examples will include both word-for-word plagiarism and paraphrasing plagiarism.  If both kinds of plagiarism are present, you must choose word-for-word for a correct answer.

  2. Sneaky plagiarism is the hardest kind to detect. See examples of such patterns.

    We have seen students do this in their writing. In some places, they will paraphrase correctly, quote correctly, and cite correctly, but in other places they also include a string of 7 or more words in sequence taken from the source, or paraphrase without citation. This is still word-for-word plagiarism, if quotation marks are missing or the full in-text citation is missing which must include a specific locator (e.g., page number); or it is paraphrasing plagiarism if ideas in the source are used without clear attribution by proper citation.

    Some test takers might claim that these are "trick questions." Nonetheless, plagiarism is still plagiarism, even if disguised this way.

  3. Some people may believe that the "seven-words-in-a-row" criterion we use is too strict. Others may think it is too lenient (e.g., more than 3 words in a row from the source is word-for-word plagiarism).

  4. There should be no question whose right answer depends on determining if the idea taken from the original source material qualifies as "common knowledge".