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Antidotes to Plagiarism

Director of Helmke Library

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Shannon Johnson
(260) 481-6502

Contact the Writing Center

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Kristine Frye
Subjects: Circulation

What is plagiarism?

Rebecca Howard lists activities usually defined as plagiarism, but they are different types of "crimes."

  • Purchasing/downloading of material (paper, presentation, ect.), or turning in word done by someone else, with the intent to pass it off as one's own work. This is undeniably in the domain of "fraud."  
  • Copying without citing the source and/or using of quotation marks, when the source is provided in the bibliography or referred to elsewhere in th work..  This could be a careless "typo" or notetaking error.  
  • Patchwriting - borrowing language of the source to talk about it.(See Below)

How often does each type of plagiarism happen?

  • 1-8 % obtained from paper mill or web.  (McCabe 1999, 2002, 2003 studies, and 2003 FSU study)
  • 15-45% copied “a few sentences” without footnotes. (McCabe 1999, 2002, 2003 studies, and 2003 FSU study)
  • 4% directly copied with no quotation marks or other indication that this was not the student's own words (Jamieson and Howard, 2011) 
  • 16% patchwritten (Jamieson and Howard, 2011)

The majority of plagiarism cases are done accidently.

What is PatchWriting?

Howard wrote that:

"Patchwriting is a form of imitation, of mimesis. It is a process of evaluating a source text, selecting passages pertinent to the patchwriter's purposes, and transporting those passages to the patchwriter'ss new context. It is a form of pentimento, in which one writer reshapes the work of another while leaving traces of the earlier writer's thought and intentions. It is something that all academic writers do."

She uses the "Greek mimesis and its Latin counterpart, imitation" to remind us of "the long, honorable history that mixing one's language with that of a source text has had" (p. 139), that "writer-text cllaboration bears some relation to an already-sanctioned textual practice, collaborative writing (p. 140), and that "patchwriting is a means of learning the language and ideas of the source" (p. 110), and in this way it is similar to the "visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas" (Oxford Dictionaries at

Guide History

This guide was originally created by Ludy Goodson and Shannon Johnson for a presentation given at the Georgia International Information Literacy Conference.  It was heavily revised in 2019 by Kris Frye, Shannon Johnson, and Debrah Huffman.