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Plagiarism and Copyright: Plagiarism


Plagiarism is the use of someone's words, ideas, and creations without giving them proper attribution. These can include:

  • written works (books, journals, etc.)
  • spoken word (interviews, lectures, etc.)
  • multimedia (movies, vlogs, music, art)

Plagiarism can be both intentional and unintentional.

Wells College Honor Code

The Wells College Honor Code states:

"Community honor shall be the basis of student government at Wells College. The principle of community honor is based on the pledge of each member of the student body to be honest and trustworthy in the conduct of her or his collegiate life as it is defined or encompassed by the Collegiate Constitution. Wells College students are under community obligation and pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, deceive, or conceal in the conduct of their collegiate life as defined or encompassed by the Collegiate Constitution. Each student is obligated to report violations of community honor involving her or himself to a member of the appropriate judicial body within 24 hours. A member of the student body, member of the faculty, or member of the administration or staff who is witness to a violation (or an admission of a violation) of community honor has the responsibility to urge the offender to report her or himself. If the offender fails to do so, the obligation falls to the witness."

Incidents of plagiarism are a violation of the Honor Code. In addition to penalties imposed by the faculty of the college, students accused of plagiarism will have to appear before the Community Court.

Consequences of Plagiarism

In academia, plagiarism can have serious consequences. It can result in failure of assignments and classes, expulsion, or being fired from your position. Those who plagiarize outside of academia aren't exempt either. Plagiarizing can result in lawsuits, loss of jobs, or a loss of reputation. 

Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism comes in many different forms. Here are some of the most common:

  • Using the entirety of another person's work and claiming it as your own. This would include re-using papers from another student, or buying a paper online.
  • Copying large portions of another work without attribution. If you are using portions of another person's work, such as a paragraph from a journal article you found, you must put it in quotation marks and cite it.
  • Bad paraphrasing, or changing a few words from the original text but keeping the essence of the original. You should but the text into your own words. If you are unable to do so, you should keep the original text and put it in quotation marks.

"Plagiarism" by sschane.

Bad Paraphrasing

When you are paraphrasing another's work, it is important that you are putting the work into your own words. Cases of Bad Paraphrasing are considered plagiarism. For example:

Original text: "Traditions are a part of life at Wells. They connect us with each other and the generations that preceded us, providing a sense of timelessness and continuity and a reason to celebrate. The experiences and memories that make up these traditions make us all a part of a special community — and they're really fun!"- from

Bad paraphrase: "Traditions are important to life at Wells. They keep us attached to the students who came before us, creating a sense of unity. The memories and practices of our traditions make us part of a special community. And they're fun!"

This is an example of bad paraphrasing. The structure of the original text was kept for the paraphrasing, and a few words were traded out to replace the words in the original text.

Better paraphrase: "Wells College values their traditions for their ability to create a sense of unity between current students and alumni."

Our Reference Librarian

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Rebecca Johnston
Louis Jefferson Long Library, Room 200A
Wells College
Aurora, NY

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Remember- your papers are your own works and should contain your own ideas!

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. Plan ahead and take your time! Often, accidental plagiarism is caused by rushing to finish an assignment. Make sure that you start your work early so that you can be careful and thorough on your assignments.
  2. Take better notes. There are many different note-taking styles, such as the Cornell Method, mind-mapping, and outlining. You can try color-coding your notes,  using different colors for direct quotes and paraphrases. Find a style that works for you.
  3. Use citation management tools. You should always, always, keep track of your sources... even if you aren't sure that you will use it. Keeping hundreds of tabs open on your web browser isn't a great way to save your sources- it's very easy to accidentally lose them. Instead, try keeping track of your sources with a citation management tool like Zotero or Mendeley
  4. Use Grammarly. If you haven't set up a Grammarly account yet, do so. You can ask IT for the code. Grammarly has a plagiarism checker that you can run your paper through before submitting it. However, Grammarly only checks for sources it can find online, so it won't match your work with any print sources that you used.
  5. Go to the Writing Center. If you are having trouble putting something into your own words, sometimes it's best to bring in a professional. Make an appointment or drop in at the Writing Center to talk it through with a tutor.