Summary: Understanding Plagiarism and Paraphrasing:
A University of Virginia Honor Committee Supplement
The Bylaws of the Honor Committee define an Honor offense as "a Significant Act of Lying,
Cheating or Stealing, which alleged Act is committed with Knowledge" (capitalized terms are
defined in the Bylaws).
"Cheating" is defined in the Bylaws as "violation of any standards, conditions, or rules for which a
student may receive benefit, credit, or acknowledgment, academic or otherwise. Cheating includes,
but is not limited to, performance of any of the following acts, or abetting a fellow student in the
performance of any of the following acts: using unauthorized materials in the completion of work,
copying from a fellow student, plagiarism, multiple submission, false citation, false data submission,
and/or unauthorized acquisition of advance knowledge of the contents of an exam or assignment."
This Supplement is designed to elaborate on one element of cheating--plagiarism--with a particular
emphasis on one kind of potential plagiarism--paraphrasing the ideas or work of another. In
general, you will avoid plagiarism if you cite the sources you paraphrase and, if you use words or
phrases that are distinctive to your original source, you use quotation marks as well. You should err
on the side of attribution and quotation marks if you want to avoid plagiarism.
This Supplement describes plagiarism and paraphrasing in a general way. Every case of alleged
plagiarism will necessarily entail unique facts and circumstances. In other words, whether or not a
particular Act actually constitutes plagiarism, and thus "Cheating," for purposes of the Honor Code,
will turn on the unique facts and circumstances of each case (including, for example, such things as