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PREVIEW: Breadcrumbs, Avoiding Plagiarism in Academic Work: Learn More

A preview of the tutorial for Hollins students, created by the Library and the Writing Center


Check out this page of examples: what is acceptable/unacceptable paraphrasing.
(Indiana University Writing Tutorial Services)

Paraphrasing means restating something you have read in your own terms. It is a way to avoid plagiarizing: instead of copying someone else 's text, you are using your own words to write what you have learned while doing research.

BUT: it isn't enough to copy, paste, change a few words. This is still too close to the original - still plagiarism.

Take The Quiz

XTreme Plagiarism Quiz
(Owens Library, Northwest Missouri State University)

Oops, I plagiarized
(UCLA Libraries)

Paraphrasing - turn off pop-up blocker
(Dalhousie University Library)

Plagiarism Horror Story

An instructor assigned his class to attend a concert and write an original review. When grading the students' work, he was struck by a particularly eloquent review of a B.B. King performance and was impressed by the student's insightful comments. As the instructor read on, he was struck again when the student elaborated on B.B. King's "slim build" and "youthful appearance."

The instructor googled a few phrases from the student's review and in 0.2 seconds, there it was—the eloquent insightful review of a 1962 B.B. King performance as written by...well, not the student since he hadn't even been born yet. True story.

(Anonymous 5 Aug. 2003. UCLA Library: used with permission under the Creative Commons License from


Plagiarism: real-life situations
(Rutgers University Libraries)

Plagiarism: don't do it (by Wuedtech, Youtube):

When To Cite


  • You use or describe specific information you have taken from a source
    (as Andrea del Verrocio's pupil Leonardo da Vinci studied in a collaborative environment, sometimes even working with Verrocio himself (Shneiderman, 112).)

  • You refer to a theory or idea from a source
    (Shneiderman believes that collaborative learning increases positive outcomes(224).

  • You  include any image (picture, table, graph) from a source.


  • The information you use is common knowledge
    (There are two main types of elephants, Asian and African).

  • The information you use can be easily found and verified by most people
    (Abraham Lincoln was 56 years old when he was assassinated) 


  • Books, journals, magazines, newspapers, diaries, letters: anything printed.
  • Websites, blogs, online journals, emails, videos: anything online.
  • TV, plays, lectures (including your professors' lectures), speeches, songs.


  • When you're quoting something directly.
  • When you're paraphrasing, summarizing, or adapting text.
  • When you're using an interpretation or explanation that isn't your own idea.

If you are uncertain about whether to cite information or not, ask your professor.

Paraphrase Versus Plagiarism: Examples

Original Source:

‘[A totalitarian] society … can never permit either the truthful recording of facts, or the emotional sincerity, that literary creation demands. … Totalitarianism demands … the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run … a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.’ 3


3. Bowker p. 337, quoting Orwell, G., “The Prevention of Literature,” Polemic, No. 2, January 1946

Student Version A -- Plagiarism

A totalitarian society can never permit the truthful recording of facts; it demands the continuous alteration of the past, and a disbelief in the
very existence of objective truth.

This is plagiarism; the student has combined copied pieces of the author’s language, without quotation marks or citations.

Student Version B -- Improper paraphrase, also plagiarism

A totalitarian society can’t be open-minded or allow the truthful recording of facts, but instead demands the constant changing of the
past and a distrust of the very existence of objective truth. (Orwell)

This is plagiarism because the student has woven together sentences and switched a few words (“open-minded” for “tolerant,” “allow” for “permit”) has left out some words, and has given an incomplete and inaccurate citation: the text is attributed to Orwell rather than to Bowker, and there's no page number.

Student Version C -- Appropriate paraphrase, not plagiarism

Orwell believed that totalitarian societies must suppress literature and free expression because they cannot survive the truth, and thus they claim it does not exist. (Bowker) pp. 336-337

This student has paraphrased using her own words, accurately reflecting and citing the author’s ideas and the source.

Student Version D -- Quotation with cite, not plagiarism

In his biography of George Orwell, Gordon Bowker discusses the themes of 1984, quoting a 1946 essay by Orwell: “’Totalitarianism demands … the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run … a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth.’” (Bowker p. 337, quoting Orwell, 1946)

By introducing his source, the student signals that the following material is from that source. Verbatim words are in quotation marks, omitted words are marked by ellipses (…), and both the book used and the original source of the quote are cited.

**This text is used with permission from UC Davis Div. of Student Affairs, Office of Student Judicial Affairs: "Avoiding Plagiarism: mastering the art of scholarship" (

Ask The Librarian

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Maryke Barber
Office: Wyndham Robertson Library, 2nd floor, Room 205

B.F.A., Music Theatre, Shenandoah College and Conservatory
M.F.A., Theatre, Virginia Commonwealth University
M.S., Information Science, University of Tennessee
Subjects: Art, Dance, Film, Music , Theatre