My colleague’s article was translated by another person and republished in the translated language but with double authors; he himself as principle author and the one who has translated the article. By the way, it might be plagiarism for the principle author, as he published the same article twice but not a plagiarism for the person who translated and published once?

I was reading a news article recently about some public officials who had been accused of plagiarizing their master’s or PhD theses, and I noticed something that really frightened me.

With some of them, what they did was copy, close to verbatim, passages from other articles or books which had citations in them, and they cited those same citations in the footnotes, without citing the secondary source (the passages in question were descriptions of a legal case or facts). FWIW, those officials did so in humanities, law, and/or international relations. In contrast, my thesis was in a STEM field.

I was unaware that this is considered plagiarism, and realized that I had done something similar in my undergrad honors thesis. I had looked at the thesis of a former student in the lab to get an idea of how a thesis was written. His work was closely related to mine, and as I was short on time, I ended up writing an introductory and methods section that were most likely, in some sections, extremely similar in wording and style. For the introductory, I tried to paraphrase what he wrote and cite the same sources he did (I did check to see if the sources were accurate) on background information relevant to both of our projects, but I’m sure that a side-by-side look would spot the similarity, as the sections were mostly definitions and descriptions of things such as the structure of DNA and NMR spectroscopy – none of it original work, and neither of us claimed them to be original.

For the methods, as I had used some of the exact same protocols and procedures that he did, I just wrote down what I did but the wording most likely ended up being extremely similar to his, enough to notice, with no citation given for that part because the protocol was just given to me orally by the grad student when I was starting out. I thought this wasn’t an issue because the methods section is difficult to phrase in different words if the experimental protocol was the same. I passed the defense and the thesis was approved – my PI didn’t notice any similarities.

The parts of the thesis where I branched off in a different direction than that student I wrote without the aid of the previous thesis, and I cited sources as appropriate and reported my own work.

My former PI stores hard copies of his students’ theses on a shelf in his lab, and there is another hard copy in the university library, but there are no electronic copies available. I don’t have the thesis of that former student with me. What I’m terrified of is that a future undergrad in the same lab might use my and that person’s thesis as guides to writing their thesis, notice the similarities, report me to my former PI and/or the honor council, and get my degree revoked for plagiarism. It’s been a year since graduation and I’m about to head into grad school.

Do you think I am right to worry? If so, what should I do?

Disclaimer: Quite a lengthy, subjective question by a non-academic but I didn’t know what other website where I can receive legitimate responses, sorry to clog your feed.

I am currently a second-year undergrad student doing an English degree. Recently I had 2 assignments where I plagiarised in a lapse of judgement. For assignment 1 (essay) I self-plagiarised a bit and am going through motions with my university to have a meeting to solve this and it seems like a minor thing as it is my own work and my first offence.

However, assignment 2 (creative writing, worth 25% of the course) I plagiarised a creative that belonged to a high school student I tutored last year. I submitted through Turnitin and was NOT caught and have already received my marks and feedback. The ex-student I copied is doing a music degree (so quite unrelated to me/no subject crossover) at my university so I am scared he will somehow submit his work and it will come up as plagiarised off me or some other scenario and I will be caught.

I feel so incredibly guilty and ashamed and scared of the consequences of what could happen if I do admit my fault especially since it would be my second offence.
Some questions I have are:

1) Since I got away with it, will my university or Turnitin somehow recheck its database and find out? Is the first time your work is submitted the only time it is checked? If I got away with it that’s the end of it? (Assuming the original work is never submitted through Turnitin and triggers an investigation, etc.).

2) What do you think will happen if I do nothing? Do you think I will get caught or not? (Not karma stuff but realistically).

3) What would you do in my situation?

Sorry for the amount of questions, any answers are greatly appreciated.

So I turned in my final paper for English and was soon met with this

Dear —–,
On April 28, 2018, you were involved in a possible violation of the Code of Student Conduct.
Specifically, it is alleged that you failed to cite an online source used when completing your ENG —- final paper.

I am a first-time freshman at this university and have absolutely no idea what to do or expect. I’ve combed through my paper multiple times but there is nothing present that indicates a misses citation. I have citied everything I have used and have included works cited page at the end. Is there any way for me to fight this and prove myself not guilty?

Next week I am to hold a presentation in a master level course about kittens (a subject I knew very little about beforehand). I found an amazing book on cute mammals, in which the chapter on kittens contains all the information I need on the subject, while also containing numerous further sources.

Now, I am worried that if I simply rewrite the content of the chapter in the book into a presentation, I would be committing plagiarism. However, it seems senseless to dive into all these further research papers on the subject, when the book summarising it has already given me all the information I need.

How can I proceed to avoid simply plagiarising the book?

I am a graduate student in mathematics, writing my own notes in my spare time on a topic I’m interested in. I find it helps me understand things if I write things out in the style of lecture notes (although to be clear I haven’t taken a course in this topic). These notes consist of information from a huge variety of sources, including books, math.stackexchange, wikipedia etc. and since it is for my personal understanding I haven’t been citing anything.

There is a chance, however, that I would like to upload these notes on my webpage for anyone who may find them useful. Is it acceptable to only include a paragraph at the beginning saying that none of the following is my own work, written purely for personal benefit and taken from a variety of sources, without citing anything specifically? Obviously there is a huge difference here to plagiarising work that would be considered for publication somewhere ‘official’, but would it still be considered unacceptable practice?

Thanks in advance.

As an undergraduate student, I wrote a science paper. Because I was learning to write, I used the form and structure of a paper on a completely different topic; in fact, it was a slightly different discipline all together. So my paper has a similar layout, transitions, and structure as said author, though no information/content/subject matter/ or topic is the same.

Unfortunately, years later I published the paper in a non-peer reviewed publication, and it was not until I googled my name and compared the two articles that I saw the similar language. I totally freaked out and immediately contacted the author of the original piece.

The author told me that I had not stolen ideas or scholarship, since no content or subject matter is the same, so assured me that it is no big deal. He told me it was inappropriate but not a big deal and that there was no reason to retract the article. He said I was over reacting because of my stress of graduate school and that I should shake it off and move on. He also said that I had not violated him and that he learned prose and structure from his professors anyway.

Still a month has passed and my anxiety over this has not passed. Is this an issue that I should bring to the editor? I was willing to retract the article and it was the author who has said I shouldn’t; I’d rather lose my reputation than harm someone else, and I mean it. It was a stupid undergraduate mistake, where I knew to cite my sources but somehow overlooked citing a form of a paper (actually the author told me I didn’t need to cite his paper; just should have rewritten a few of the sentences). I wrote the author back about this, and he again repeated that I should shake it off.

What do you think? Should articles be retracted for this? What is my moral duty?

Edit: It’s not just the formal template that I followed, but the language – i.e. transition words. The order of the introduction is the same, for example. I said why the world needs the paper in a similar language even though there was two totally different topics and subject matters. It was inappropriate, now maybe we don’t retract articles for this sort of thing, I don’t know.

I am an incoming math PhD student in the US. I am thinking of starting a math blog. The intended audience is myself plus maybe other math graduate students.

I am a little concerned about citations to avoid plagiarism. Of course if a theorem or proof comes from a paper, I need to cite it. What about theorems and proofs coming from textbooks. For example, say I give a definition of a group, which appears in virtually all standard textbooks in introductory algebra.

I guess the latter case will happen more frequently since my blog is mostly entry level graduate material math that you can find in many textbooks.


  1. If a theorem or proof comes from a textbook, can I assume that it is considered common knowledge, with respect to the targeted audience, and just state and prove the theorem?

  2. At what point does a theorem or proof stop becoming common knowledge, maybe it only appears in some very advanced textbooks?