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Plagiarism is the the lack of attributing intellectual ideas and creative works to their creator.


We can criticize, comment, report, build upon and teach using ideas of others, but we need to ensure that we are crediting the author or creator properly. This way, when other people go to use our intellectual work they can credit us as well and trace back to the intellectual works and ideas we found interesting and helpful.

According to the Council of Writing Program Administrators, an understanding as a user of information entails:

  • Assembling and analyzing a set of sources that you have determined are relevant to the issues you are investigating;
  • Acknowledging clearly when and how you are drawing on the ideas or phrasings of others;
  • Learning the conventions for citing documents and acknowledging sources appropriate to the field you are studying;
  • Consulting your instructors when you are unsure about how to acknowledge the contributions of others to your thought and writing.

What Plagiarism Looks Like

Plagiarism includes

  • Submitting someone else’s work (text, data, audio, video, etc.) as your own
  • Minimally changing someone else’s work by replacing parts of the work
  • Reusing parts of a previous work (including your own) without citation
  • Stitching together numerous paraphrases from others without credit
  • Citing some but not all sources

Brown Code of Conduct

There is a code of conduct that supports Brown University's commitment to building a scholarly community. Essentially, the key concepts are:

  • Produce work independently
  • Tell the truth
  • Acknowledge the work of others (including yourself)

Read the full Brown Academic Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity.

Example of Plagiarism

Here is an example of plagiarism where material written by Mustapha Marrouchi in 2003 is compared to text written twenty-one years earlier by Salman Rushdie. Marrouchi copies Rushdie's orignial text nearly word for word and does not reference the original. Not all plagiarism is this blatant, however. Merely paraphrasing an idea without attribution is still considered to be plagiarism.

Brock Read. “Anatomy of a Serial Plagiarism Charge.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 21, 2014.