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Plagiarism & Copyright  

Last Updated: Nov 7, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Plagiarism: A Definition

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is:

  • The adoption or reproduction of ideas, words or statements of another person as one’s own without proper acknowledgement. (NSU Student Handbook 2012-2013, p. 23)

  • Having someone else complete your assignments

  • Paying someone to complete your assignments

  • A form of cheating

  • In violation of federal copyright law (To learn more about copyright, click here.)

Students who would never think of stealing a car or even copying another student's test answers may think nothing of "borrowing" the ideas or wording from another author. Writers must always document the ideas and information which are outside the realm of common knowledge. (See below for more information about common knowledge.)

Be aware that you can also plagiarize from yourself by submitting your own previous work for a new assignment.


Plagiarism: Facts & Online Resources

What about stuff everyone knows?

Every academic discipline has its own set of commonly known facts. A good test of “common knowledge” is to ask yourself, “Did I know this before I started this course?” If you can’t definitively say yes, you need to cite your source.

What about stuff on the Internet?

Text and graphics found online should be treated just like other resources and must be cited. Consult a style manual for proper formatting guidelines for various types of online resources.


Plagiarism: Prevention

Fine…What can I do to prevent plagiarizing?

Properly citing your sources is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you are not plagiarizing material.

APA is the most frequently used citation style at Nova Southeastern University. For more information about APA citation, refer to these Library Guides:

  • APA 6th Edition: Basics
    This is a visual guide to help students create citations in APA style.  Screenshots have been taken from actual Microsoft Word documents to simulate exactly how the reference page will look.

  • APA Style (6th ed.)
    This APA Style guide is specifically designed for graduate students who need in-depth help with the ins and outs of APA formatting!
  • APA Style Guide for Electronic References (NSU login required)
    Adapted from APA Style (6th edition), this guide shows you how to format references including journal articles with DOI, ebooks, websites and other electronic resources.

Plagiarism: What Not to Do



Plagiarism: Real Life Examples

Unfortunately plagiarism isn't unique to academic settings. Learn from these individuals' experiences with plagiarism:

The Individual What Happened Consequence
Jayson Blair

From 1999-2003, almost half of the articles written by
Blair during his tenure at the New York Times included
made up quotes or quotes plagiarized from wire services.

Blair was forced to resign.
More information from the
New York Times.

Doris Kearns Goodwin The Weekly Standard accused historian Goodwin of
plagiarizing content in her bestselling 1987 book,
The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys. She took respon-
sibility for the plagiarism, which she said was accidental,
and had any unsold copies removed from bookstore
shelves so that a corrected version could be printed.
In addition to the negative
publicity, Simon & Schuster, the
book's publisher, was forced to
reach a financial settlement with
one of Goodwin's sources after
the book's publication in 1987.
More information from Forbes.
Sen. Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been accused of plagiarizing
Wikipedia in a speech he made, an essay from The Week in
an op-ed he wrote for The Washington Times and
Hertiage Foundation study in his book.

Although he emphasized no one
would be fired, Paul's office was
"restructured" to "prevent future

Fareed Zakaria After it was determined Zakaria plagiarized material from
an article in the New Yorker for his own August 2012 column
in Time, another instance of plagiarism was found in
Zakaria's 2008 best-selling book, "Post-American World."

Zakaria was suspended from both
Time and CNN, where he had a
weekly program. More from The
Washington Post.


Citation Style Guides

Properly cite your sources to ensure that you're not plagiarizing. The library has plenty of resources for you no matter what style guide you are required to use!

Writing and Citation Style Guides


What are Professors & Instructors Doing to Prevent Plagiarism?

Professors and instructors are using plagiarism checking software and programs such as to check students' work for similarities to web pages, other student papers and published articles.

Watch this video for more information about works and how you can prevent plagiarism.


Plagiarism: Resources

Learn more at, hosted by iParadigms, maker of Turnitin.


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