University of Washington School of Public Health


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Entry into graduate school signifies the beginning of a student’s professional training, and part of this training involves learning recognize and steer clear of professional misconduct. While appropriate professional conduct extends to many aspects of your future career, this web page focuses on the proper use of citations in written work and the avoidance of plagiarism.


“Plagiarism is defined as the use of the words, ideas, diagrams, etc., of publicly available work without appropriately acknowledging the sources of these materials. This definition constitutes plagiarism whether it is intentional or unintentional and whether it is the work of another or your own, previously published work. Plagiarism is a very serious offense that the University of Washington does not tolerate. Evidence of plagiarism may prevent granting of your degree.” (Source: University of Washington)

As straight-forward as this may sound, it has been our experience that students are often uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism. Furthermore, although the University of Washington has clear guidelines about this, students – and faculty – are generally poorly informed about how instances of suspected plagiarism should be handled.

The University of Washington has delineated what behaviors are considered to be plagiarism:

  • Using another writer's words without proper citation.
  • Using another writer's ideas without proper citation.
  • Citing your source but reproducing the exact words of a printed source without quotation marks.
  • Borrowing the structure of another author's phrases or sentences without crediting the author from whom it came.
  • Borrowing all or part of another student's paper or using someone else's outline to write your own paper.
  • Using a paper writing "service" or having a friend write the paper for you.
  • In computer programming classes, borrowing computer code from another student and presenting it as your own.


Resources on detecting and avoiding plagiarism

There are hundreds of excellent resources available on the Web on detecting and avoiding plagiarism.

Useful UW websites:

Student Academic Responsibility

Selected Web Resources on Academic Plagiarism

Health Services Student Development Resource on Plagiarism

Another good resource is Duke University’s plagiarism website:

Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism

Warning Signs & Prevention

Resources on proper use of citations

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to know when and how to properly cite sources that you use in written work. Again, there are many helpful guides, including:

Citation & Writing Guides (UW)

What & How to Cite (Duke University)

Consequences of suspected or proven plagiarism

The SPH Procedures for Suspected Academic Misconduct can be found at the following link:

The University of Washington describes the possible consequences for a student when plagiarism is demonstrated. These include:

  1. Disciplinary warning
  2. Reprimand
  3. Disciplinary probation
  4. Suspension
  5. Dismissal