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Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism: Student Tools and Resources

Plagiarism at the University of Virginia

Plagiarism is a form of cheating and, as such, is an Honor offense at the University of Virginia.  The UVA Honor Committee website states:

By today’s standard, an Honor Offense is defined as a Significant Act of Lying, Cheating or Stealing, which Act is committed with Knowledge. Three criteria determine whether or not an Honor Offense has occurred:

  • Act: Was an act of lying, cheating or stealing committed?
  • Knowledge: Did the student know, or should a reasonable University student have known, that the Act in question was Lying, Cheating, or Stealing?
  • Significance: Would open toleration of this Act violate or erode the community of trust? (from

More information about plagiarism in relation to the University of Virginia Honor Code can be found in Understanding Citations, Plagiarism, and Paraphrasing: A University of Virginia Honor Committee Supplement​.

Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

Educate yourself about what constitutes plagiarism.  The Key Resources section on the previous page contains a number of valuable resources that detail different types of plagiarism and academic fraud.

Consult resources on how to properly give credit to those whose ideas you are using in your own work.  The Darden Camp Library Style Guides and Citation Management guide contains information on various citation methods, including the Harvard Business School Citation Guide [PDF], which has information on citing business-specific information sources.  Our guide also includes information on citation management software, which can help you keep track of the resources you're using.

Use the tools below to check your own work for plagiarism.  Be aware that with any plagiarism detection software, false positives can and do occur.  Be critical of the results and use them as a tool to identify potential areas for improvement if necessary.

Ask a librarian or your faculty member if you have any questions or concerns.

Tools to Check Your Work

Online plagiarism checkers can and do produce false positives and false negatives, so they should never be used as the only method to determine whether plagiarism has occurred.  They are still valuable tools, however, in that they provide a fast way to identify potentially problematic parts of a piece of work.  If you use a plagiarism checker, be sure to examine the results critically and carefully.

The following plagiarism checkers are available to students:

  • Pros: Boasts a large database of content that work is checked against ("over 14 trillion web pages, articles, books, and periodicals" according to the Plagramme website); claims not to store checked papers in its database (Plagramme FAQs); multilingual functionality; provides a plagiarism risk rating at no cost.
  • Cons: There is a cost to view the specific problem areas in a work; the database may not include content from specialized business information resources.
  • ​Pros: Greater emphasis on grammar checking than other options; MS Office add-in available.
  • Cons: There is a cost involved; boasts a smaller database;  the database may not include content from specialized business information resources.

There are also free alternatives available online (such as Small SEO Tools's Plagiarism Checker) that essentially run bits of text through a search engine to determine if they match text elsewhere on the web.  Because of the limited nature of these, they are likely not effective for checking assignments that use a heavy amount of content that is not openly available on the web.

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