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Plagiarism Primer

Plagiarism Web Sites:

The following will walk you through the steps of an actual case of suspected plagiarism ...

The FLS101 course assignment: Watch a DVD movie in Spanish. Write a movie review in English. If you want to write the review in Spanish you'll get extra points. This is an extra credit assignment to replace a quiz grade, etc.

The student submission:

I thought Selena was a wonderful story about her and how she celebrated her. The part of movie when betrayal comes is when her personal manager is stealing founds from her fan club. This shows you know matter how nice you are to people; some people have to try to take advantage of you like in Selena One of the most fascinating aspects of Selena is how it deals with culture clashes. At one point, Abraham points out to his daughter that for her to be accepted on both sides of the border, she must be "more Mexican than most Mexicans" and "more American than most Americans." She must speak English and Spanish flawlessly, and has to understand and identify with icons of both cultures. This is a lesson that Selena takes to heart. She is an American, but she is also a Mexican, and she learns to draw from both cultures to form her own style.

Pensé Selena era un cuento maravilloso acerca de ella y cómo ella la celebró. La parte de película cuando la traición viene es cuando su director personal hurta funda de su club de ventilador. Esto muestra usted sabe la cuestión cuán agradable usted está a la gente; alguna persona tiene que tratar de aprovecharse delo como en Selena uno de los aspectos más fascinadores de Selena son cómo trata con estruendos de cultura. En un punto, Abraham indica a su hija que para ella ser aceptado en ambos lados de la frontera, ella debe ser "más mexicano que la mayoría de LOS mexicanos" y "más Americano que la mayoría de Los Americanos." Ella debe hablar inglés y español perfectamente, y tiene que entender y tener que identificar con iconos de ambas culturas. Esto es una lección que Selena toma al corazón. Ella es un Americano, pero ella son también un mexicano, y ella aprenden a dibujar de ambas culturas para formar su propio estilo.

Determine the source:

  • In the English paragraph there is an obvious change in writing style and accuracy between the words "Selena" and "One" in line 5:

    "Selena One of the most fascinating aspects of Selena is how it deals with"

  • The capitalization of "One" suggests that what follows has been copied from another source, probably from a film review of the movie.
  • Select a line of text from the suspect submission and paste it into a Google search: http://search.netscape.com/
  • Take a look at paragraph seven of the first choice in the search results:


The student has plagiarized, verbatim, paragraph seven from James Berardinelli's review of the movie.

  • On to the Spanish paragraph. At first it is a challenge to figure out how the student wrote it; many of the structures used are not taught in FLS101. However there is a similar style and accuracy change in the Spanish paragraph as in the English paragraph. With few exceptions, notably the use of the verb "son" instead of "es", the Spanish version of the plagiarized English paragraph is excellent Spanish. Was someONE helping him to translate the English into Spanish, or was it someTHING?
  • The following is a short list of online translators:

Copy the English paragraph into the translation window of the first online translator in the above list, and select "English to Spanish". The results are identical to the Spanish paragraph submitted by the student, including the quirky capitalizations.

  • This is a solid case of plagiarism.

Determine Consequences: The following links will help you to decide what steps to take.