What are the various forms of plagiarism ?

Plagiarising is a serious breach of ethical codes which consists of presenting as a personal product something which has in reality been written or produced by somebody else.

Furthermore, this is considered a punishable act of theft in the eyes of the law (Code de droit économique, Livre XI "Propriété intellectuelle", Titre 5).

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Plagiarism has the same status irrespective of :

  • The nature of the document (passages of a text, images, drawings, maps, photos, works, computer program source codes, figures, diagrams, formulas, etc.)
  • The format (printed document, electronic document, conference, etc.)
  • The position of the author of the document used: even if an author has given permission for the document to be used, there is plagiarism if it is not cited. The same applies to open access websites and documents, or ones where some information is inaccessible (author, publisher, date, etc.): in these cases, the source must also be mentioned so that the reader can find the document you have used. Moreover, it is considered an act of fraud if you use a piece of work that you have asked someone else to write for you (and even paid them for it).

Plagiarism is not restricted to literal copying. You are allowed to use what someone else has written if you modify it, but it is considered plagiarism if the source isn't cited when you :

  • paraphrase or modify an extract from a document
  • copy someone else's idea exactly as it is (development of an argument, an analysis, a combination of concepts, etc.)
  • translate a source document
  • etc.

In addition, you must mention any work of your own that you reuse: reusing something you wrote yourself in other works isn't accepted unless it is clearly referenced.

One exception: knowledge considered as "common knowledge" (for instance, Paris is the capital of France) shouldn't be referenced. In case of doubt, ask the person supervising your work to help you define what can be considered as such.

The seriousness of the plagiarism varies according to the scale – quantitative and qualitative – of the borrowing. It will nevertheless always be punished.