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SOM Copyright Resources: Academic Integrity, Plagiarism, and Citing Sources

Academic Integrity

Copyright violations and plagiarism are serious ethical and legal violations that are not aligned with the standards of conduct expected of the students and faculty of Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. For more information on these standards please refer to the Academic Honesty Policy and the Hofstra University Copyright Policy.


What is Plagiarism?

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

Plagiarism is not always as simple as copying someone else's work word for word. Some types of plagiarism include:

1. Copying text “as is” without quotation marks and with no citation or source.

2. Reordering the elements of the source text without citation.

3. Copying pieces (sentences, key phrases) of the source text without citation.

4. Paraphrasing without citation.

5. Reproducing information that is not common knowledge or self-evident without citation.

6. Incorporating an idea heard in conversation without citation.

7. Using your own past material or another student’s material as a new idea without citation.

8. Paying for another to contribute to your work without citation.

9. Using software or online translators to translate material without citation.

10. Paying someone else to do your work, purchasing material, or translating from someone else’s material (web-based or hard copy).

If you are not sure whether or not your work counts as plagiarism it is always safer to cite your source.



Calvano, B. Plagiarism in higher education [Internet]. Entertainment; 2011 Aug 16 [cited 2015 Aug 19]. Available from

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that is widely known and accepted by many people. The use of such information without citation does not constitute plagiarism.

Common knowledge consists of facts that can be easily verified by a number of sources and are generally irrefutable, such as dates of historical events. Experts from different fields also have different standards of what constitutes "common knowledge". For example, if a medical researcher was writing a health-related article they could state that tobacco use is the the leading cause of preventable death in the US without a citation because this fact is common knowledge in their field.

Since students are just being introduced to many of the concepts that may be considered common knowledge by professionals in their field these concepts are not yet common knowledge for them. In order to decide if the material you want to use constitutes “common knowledge,” you may find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I know this information before I took this course?
  • Did this information/idea come from my own brain?

If you answer “no” to either or both of these questions, then the information is not “common knowledge” to you. In these cases, you need to cite your source(s) and indicate where you first learned this bit of what may be “common knowledge” in the field.



Plagiarism and Citing Sources (Health Affairs): Other Resources [Internet]. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Health Sciences Library; 2015 [cited 2015 Aug 19]. Available from:

The Writing Center. Plagiarism [Internet]. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina College of Arts & Sciences; 2012 [cited 2015 Aug 19]. Available from:

Citing Your Sources

Citation Guidelines

The standard citation style used by the School of Medicine is NLM. Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2nd edition) details how to cite various kinds of resources in NLM style and is freely available online here. The library has also created a LibGuide on Scientific Writing which provide examples of commonly used resources cited in the NLM style. Click here to access the Scientific Writing LibGuide.

The School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies uses APA style citations. See Hofstra's APA-style Citation Guide and the Purdue OWL: APA Formatting and Style Guide for details on how to correctly create APA citations.


Managing Your Citations

EndNote is a tool used for publishing and managing bibliographies, citations, and references that is available to Hofstra Northwell affiliates for free. It allows you to import, share, and organize your references and automatically generates properly formatted bibliographies in a variety of citation styles via the Cite-While-You-Write feature for Microsoft Word. For more information on downloading and using EndNote see our guide.

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