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Clemson University Graduate School


What Is Plagiarism?

All research depends to some extent on the work of others who have come before you. Other researchers’ ideas and results are often the starting point of your own work, but it is important to properly acknowledge the work of others to avoid one of the most serious forms of academic misconduct: plagiarism.

The Clemson University Academic Integrity Policy (located in the Undergraduate Catalog) says plagiarism “includes the copying of language, structure or ideas of another and attributing the work to one’s own efforts.” The definition makes no distinction between deliberately using someone else’s work without attribution and doing so unintentionally; both are plagiarism.

iThenticate Review of ETD Manuscripts

The possibility of plagiarism in an ETD submitted for graduation is a serious issue that can have serious consequences.  For this reason, all ETD manuscripts submitted to the Graduate School will be evaluated for plagiarism using a tool called iThenticate as part of the manuscript review process.  iThenticate is an anti-plagiarism application that seeks to ensure submitted manuscripts represent original work and follow proper citation practices.

iThenticate analyzes the text of a document and looks for potential matches against an extensive repository of sources; including published journals, online content, and databases like Proquest.  iThenticate is a sophisticated tool that looks for both exact matches and minimal adjustments that would not constitute original work.  A similarity report is generated that is evaluated by the manuscript reviewer.  There is no set threshold for what is considered plagiarism, and each match is evaluated for context, and every situation is unique. When a potential case of plagiarism is identified, the student’s adviser is alerted, and they will decide what should be done about it.

This process is not designed to hold any student back from graduation and simply seeks to ensure all published ETDs are free of controversy.  Please contact the manuscript review desk with any questions:

Common Types of Plagiarism

Some forms of plagiarism include:

  • Directly reproducing or paraphrasing someone else’s work (published or unpublished), including insights and opinions, without attribution, regardless of length.
  • Failing to clearly identify quoted material by using quotation marks (for short sections) or blocked text.
  • Directly quoting your own text from previous projects or papers without attribution.

Plagiarism also includes using someone else’s ideas, art, figures, tables, maps, charts, diagrams and so forth, even if you recreate or reformat the material.

An exception is made for material that is common knowledge. If information is readily available from general reference sources in your field, or if the information appears undocumented in several sources, it may be common knowledge. Whether material is common knowledge is often a judgment call, and if you are in doubt, you should err on the side of caution. In no case should you ever copy text of any kind and appropriate it as your own.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Because plagiarism is such a serious breach of academic integrity and has very serious consequences, you should reference the list below.

  • Consult your advisor if you have any doubt about whether a part of your thesis or dissertation constitutes plagiarism.
  • Always err on the side of caution.
  • Become very familiar with the various kinds of plagiarism by reading articles or websites on the subject.
  • Never copy other sources while researching without attributing the material and marking it in some way to remind you later that it is in fact someone else’s work and will need attribution if it is included in your finished paper. If you’re taking notes, mark parts of the notes that are paraphrases of another person’s writing
  • As you proofread each section of your paper, devote at least one reading to carefully checking sources, looking for paraphrasing that is not attributed and other forms of accidental plagiarism.
  • If you are at the thesis or dissertation stage of your program, check out the opportunity to self-enroll in the Canvas course, GRAD 360° Turnitin for Graduate Researchers (a new course section is offered each semester). The GRAD 360° professional development team set up this non-graded “course” to allow you to use a leading anti-plagiarism tool to check your citations as you write and complete your ETD.

Helpful Links About Plagiarism

Clemson University plagiarism resources:

Purdue University plagiarism resources: