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Citation Practices and Avoiding Plagiarism: Penn's Plagiarism Policy

Penn's Plagiarism Policy

The University of Pennsylvania's Code of Academic Integrity defines Plagiarism as:

Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment.

If you present someone's words, thoughts or data as your own, you are committing plagiarism—you are stealing. The location of the information is irrelevant: when it comes to plagiarism, information from the Internet is equivalent to information from a physical book or journal. To avoid plagiarism you must cite the original author every time you:

  • Use an author's exact written or spoken words. In this case, you must also identify the words by enclosing them with quotation marks or indenting the quote on both sides of the margin.
  • Paraphrase someone's written or spoken words
  • Use facts provided by someone else that are not common knowledge.
  • Make significant use of someone's ideas or theories.

It is also plagiarism to pay a person or Internet service for a paper, hand in someone else's paper as your own, or cut and paste text from the Internet to your paper without citing the source.


Students caught plagiarizing may face either academic or disciplinary negative consequences. Instructors who determine that a paper includes plagiarized material can take academic measures, such as giving a failing grade for the paper. If the instructor decides that disciplinary measures should be taken, the case will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. If the student is found responsible following formal procedures, the student may face a number of sanctions—including suspension. Whatever the sanction, academic integrity action by the Office of Student Conduct becomes a part of the student's permanent record and may have an adverse impact on future academic and career goals.

Penn's disciplinary process is described in The Charter of the University of Pennsylvania Student Disciplinary System.

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