Answers to Section 1: Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

All eight incidents are forms of plagiarism or academic dishonesty.

Some of these examples imply a more deliberate attempt to deceive than others, but in all cases the incident described constitutes an act of plagiarism. The best practice is simply to avoid the possibility that your reader might be left to wonder if the material you submit is your own. Always cite your sources. If questions arise concerning what facts constitute "common knowledge" or what forms of citation are acceptable for a particular assignment ask your professor.


Answers to Section 2: Common Knowledge


  1. No; the basic facts about the checks-and-balances system are common knowledge and do not need to be cited.

  2. No; even if you cannot remember the exact date of the assassination attempt on Reagan, it is common knowledge because the date is undisputed and can be found in a variety of sources. 

  3. No; writing on the Web is protected by copyright and must be cited, even if no author is listed.

  4. Yes; it's common knowledge if it appears undocumented in 5 or more sources. 

  5. Yes; such a small program would not be widely known, so you should cite your sister as a source if you mention it. If you describe the program in more detail, it would make sense to research documents or newspaper descriptions and cite these rather than Big Sis.

  6. No; the date and location of Shakespeare's birth is not in dispute and can be found in many sources, so it is common knowledge even if you did not know it. 

  7. Hmmm. This is a tricky situation. Since some, but not all, literary historians believe Shakespeare himself played the ghost, this is probably common knowledge among Shakespeare experts. You, however, are not a Shakespeare expert, so it would be wise to cite the footnote just to be safe. So, the answer is, Yes—cite it! 

  8. No; undisputed dates are common knowledge. 

  9. Yes; conspiracy theories are controversial, and the details of such controversies need to be cited.

Answers to Section 3: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Texts

Illegal trade passage:

  1. Correct. An example of summary. The sentence gives the author and the title. The bibliography would provide more publication information. If you are using an author-date system of citation, you should also include the date in the sentence. 

  2. Incorrect. Two things are wrong: some of the language is too similar to the original, and the citation method is incorrect. Do not list the URL in your paper. The phrase "adopt new strategies to deal with this unprecedented struggle that now shapes the world" is too close to the source, in some places identical to it. 

  3. Incorrect. This paraphrase is too close to the original. The writer used a thesaurus to change key words, but the sentence structure is identical to the original. (Also, using "etc" in the text is annoying!) 

  4. Correct. This is common knowledge. The sentence is so general, it really has nothing to do with the passage from Moises Naim, so there is no reason to cite him.

Romance novel passage:

  1. Correct. This summary is correct; the author's name appears in the sentence so it does not need to appear in the parenthetical citation.

  2. Incorrect. Although the source is documented properly, some of the language is too close to the source, especially the phrases "keep women in their place" and "real female problems." These phrases need to be put into quotation marks or rewritten.

  3. Incorrect. Most of this sentence is copied directly from the source; it needs to be rewritten or partially enclosed in quotes. 

  4. Incorrect. the quote is properly attributed to Greer, but the page number refers to Modleski's book, not Greer. Also, there's no need to copy the footnote from the original. 

  5. Correct. This example shows how to properly cite one writer quoted within the work of another. Also note how the ellipses and brackets indicate how the "-ing" part of "cherish" was deleted to make the quote flow better. The ellipses indicate that something was deleted; the brackets indicate that the ellipses were not in the original source.

Answers to Section 4: Miscellaneous


  1. C 

  2. D; A is an example of APA method of documenting websites; B is MLA; C is APA footnote. 

  3. C 

  4. D