Plagiarism resources for educators
Plagiarism can be a tricky subject to teach. While it may be most familiar to students as a deliberate choice— e.g. copy-and-pasting something from Wikipedia or turning in a paper they didn’t write— it’s also important for them to know that plagiarism often occurs accidentally.
We have compiled a variety of resources targeted at educators and professionals seeking to teach high-school or college-age students about plagiarism. These include sample lecture slides, videos, in-depth examples, quizzes, and downloadable worksheets.
Plagiarism articles and guides
The Scribbr Knowledge Base is an open-source collection of free resources to help students succeed in academic research, writing, and citation skills. We regularly publish helpful content to make challenging topics more accessible to students.
The following resources can help students cite with confidence and avoid plagiarism.
Plagiarism lecture slides
We have adapted several of our most popular articles into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about a variety of academic topics.
Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.
The Scribbr YouTube channel is dedicated to helping students understand a variety of academic topics. In addition to our plagiarism-related videos below, we also have videos explaining other topics, such as writing a research paper, the rules of APA style, and beyond.
One of the best ways to teach students about plagiarism is via examples. It can be easy to forget a set of quotation marks, to paraphrase too closely, or to leave out a citation. Showing students real-life examples of plagiarism can also make the subject more relatable.
Paraphrasing means formulating someone else’s ideas in your own words. In order to do so correctly, you must entirely rewrite the passage you are referencing without changing the meaning of the original text.
Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the original source, and avoid wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism.
Solution: Paraphrasing does not mean just switching out a few words from a copied-and-pasted text. In order to paraphrase correctly, you should rewrite the author’s point to show that you completely understand it. Don’t forget to include a citation!
Quoting means copying a brief passage of someone else’s words, enclosed in quotation marks. Be sure to correctly cite the original source, and make sure that the text within quotation marks is identical to the original.
In academic writing, it’s usually best to quote sparingly. Consider paraphrasing instead, to better show that you have understood the source and make your work more original.
Solution: The text you are quoting must be introduced in your own words, enclosed in quotation marks, and correctly attributed to the original author. In general, quotations should be used sparingly.
Failure to cite ideas and information
Even if you’re not directly copying a passage of text, you still need to cite the source of information and ideas that you use in your writing.
Just like common sense, common knowledge is not always so common. You may be tempted to mention a fact, concept, or equation that you assume everyone knows, but proceed with caution.
In order to be considered common knowledge, your statement should be widely known, undisputed, and easily verified. It also generally cannot be attributed to a specific person or paper. When in doubt, add a citation.
Real-life examples of plagiarism
There are many relevant examples of plagiarism in different industries, from pop culture to academia and public speaking.
Downloadable plagiarism worksheets and handouts
See below for two worksheets to help students practice paraphrasing and quoting correctly, as well as a common knowledge quiz asking them to choose which statements are common knowledge and which need a citation.
Worksheet: Practicing paraphrasing
Worksheet: Practicing quoting
Quiz: Common knowledge vs. needs citation
Frequently asked questions
- What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s work as your own without giving proper credit to the original author. In academic writing, plagiarism involves using words, ideas, or information from a source without including a citation.
Plagiarism can have serious consequences, even when it’s done accidentally. To avoid plagiarism, it’s important to keep track of your sources and cite them correctly.
- What are some examples of plagiarism?
Some examples of plagiarism include:
- Copying and pasting a Wikipedia article into the body of an assignment
- Quoting a source without including a citation
- Not paraphrasing a source properly, such as maintaining wording too close to the original
- Forgetting to cite the source of an idea
- Can plagiarism be accidental?
Accidental plagiarism is one of the most common examples of plagiarism. Perhaps you forgot to cite a source, or paraphrased something a bit too closely. Maybe you can’t remember where you got an idea from, and aren’t totally sure if it’s original or not.
These all count as plagiarism, even though you didn’t do it on purpose. When in doubt, make sure you’re citing your sources. Also consider running your work through a plagiarism checker tool prior to submission, which work by using advanced database software to scan for matches between your text and existing texts.
- What is the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing?
So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?
- Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
- Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
- Paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source.
- How can I summarize a source without plagiarizing?