10 Things You Didn’t Know About Plagiarism

You’ve probably heard a ton about plagiarism through high school and college, and created quite a few bibliographies by now. Still, these 10 facts might just surprise you. Have a read and put your knowledge of this sticky subject to the test!


Worried about getting caught for accidental plagiarism? Try the Citation Machine Plus plagiarism tool. It will help to find text that may need to be cited, then show you the text’s source so you can easily create a citation.


“Common knowledge” and “your knowledge” don’t have to match

Just because you need to look something up doesn’t automatically mean that you have to cite it. Majority rules with common knowledge—so if you asked ten people the name of the first astronaut to walk on the moon and 8 gave the correct answer, you could safely say that the fact is common knowledge and leave it uncited.

Ideas need citations too

Many students fall into the trap of assuming that only direct quotations need to be cited. In fact, you should also give credit to the original source of ideas that you’re using or mentioning—unless it’s something so universally known and understood that it could be considered common knowledge. For example, Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Paraphrasing isn’t a free pass

We hate to be the bearer of bad news but simply re-arranging the wording of a quote or idea doesn’t get you out of the need to cite the source. And lecturers can usually spot this trick easily, so don’t be tempted to try!

It’s possible to plagiarize yourself

Yes, even using your own work can be classed as plagiarism if you don’t reference it. If you use the same idea twice, you must make your tutor aware by citing yourself and the piece of work in question.

Plagiarism can even catch up with a Vice President

Allegations of plagiarism at law school caused the 47th Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, to withdraw his bid for presidency in 1988 (Dionne Jr). Proof that plagiarism can catch up with even the most powerful and influential people in the country!

Colleges are offering integrity classes to help combat plagiarism

The University College of San Diego has an office dedicated to academic integrity . It’s mission is to stamp out plagiarism and cheating, and enhance ethical decision-making and integrity (Academic Integrity). That includes holding integrity events and classes, as well as providing one-on-one advice for students and staff alike.

There’s profit in plagiarism

Despite the fact that it’s completely forbidden by colleges and universities, and even goes against copyright law, there are plenty of online agencies that are happy to profit from selling pre-written essays to students. However easy it may seem to download a completed paper, the serious potential consequences should deter you.

Tutors can tell

If you think that you can sneak plagiarized work past your tutor unnoticed, think again. Most tutors are pretty good at detecting a change in their student’s usual writing style or academic ability, and if not, colleges can use anti-plagiarism detection software to double check that all work is your own.

It doesn’t just affect students

Copyright law applies to everyone, so it’s not just students that have to worry about plagiarism. In fact, the sanctions for professionals releasing plagiarized work into the public domain can be far scarier, with ensuing lawsuits often running into millions of dollars! Lots of famous names have been accused (but not found guilty) of plagiarism, including Justin Bieber, J.R.R Tolkien, and Helen Keller (Van Jaarsveld).

Online tools make citation easy

The good news is that plagiarism is not difficult to avoid. Simply keep a good record of the sources that you use and CitationMachine.com can help do the rest for you. Simply choose between Chicago style format, APA, or MLA citing format—and many more—to make full citations, parenthetical citations, works cited lists, footnotes, and annotated bibliographies really easy.

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Works cited

Dionne JR, E J. “Biden Withdraws Bid for President in Wake of Furor.” The New York Times, 24 Sept. 1987, www.nytimes/1987/09/24/us/biden-withdraws-bid-for-president-in-wake-of-furor.html. Accessed 13 July 2018.

Academic Integrity. UC San Diego, 2018, https://academicintegrity.ucsd.edu/. Accessed 13 July 2018.

Van Jaarsveld, Gabrielle. “10 Famous People Accused of Plagiarism.” TopTenz. 28 January, 2016. https://www.toptenz.net/10-famous-people-accused-of-plagiarism.php. Accessed 13 July 2018.


Now that you have citations down, let’s talk about writing. The Citation Machine grammar guides give readers a solid foundation on transitive and intransitive verbs, demonstrative adjectives, plural nouns, determiners, and other parts of speech.