Plagiarism FAQ

Question: What if I already know a fact or procedure from my personal experience or work as a
lawyer. Can I write about it without looking for a source?
Answer: Yes, if you have independent knowledge about something, you can write about it
without a citation. If, however, you only have that knowledge through research or through
consulting another source, then you need to cite the source(s) that you used.
2. Question: If I already know a fact, do I need to go out and search to make sure that there are no
sources that say the same thing, to avoid a charge of plagiarism?
Answer: No. There’s no need to conduct a search to see if anyone else has expressed the same
idea or written the same sentence. Plagiarism is only when you have actually used another
source and failed to properly attribute it. In this case, you did not use a source, so no citation is
Question: Can I just cut and paste answers from a model answer (in the past exam archive) in a
new exam, as long as I put them in quotes and attribute them?
Answer: You can, if you’re trying to avoid a plagiarism charge, but please note that if you do this,
you’ll likely fail the exam. After all, the answers that you would be providing are not your own,
and therefore the faculty member is unlikely to give you any credit for the copied and pasted
Question: There are standard tests articulated in cases (e.g. extrinsic/intrinsic test in copyright).
Since they’re standard tests, do we need to cite anything?
Answer: Generally, the test is set by a court’s opinion, a regulation, or by statute, in which case,
you would still want to cite to the source that created the test or sets forth the necessary
elements in an analysis.
Question: When do I need to use quotation marks?
Answer: When you have an exact quote (e.g., if you cut and paste directly from one source into
your work).
Question: Do I need to cite to sources during an exam? There isn’t sufficient time to add
Answer: If you have time to consult sources during the exam, you have time to add citations.
Just cite the sources as you consult them and use them in your answers.
Question: What if it’s a closed book exam? Since I’m answering from memory, do I need to cite
Answer: In such an instance, you’re unlikely to have to provide sources. However, there may be
exceptions. For example, if you are taking an exam, where there is one recognized analysis and a
single seminal case that set forth the elements of that analysis, you would still want to reference
that case.
Question: What if the only source I’m consulting is my own notes. Do I need to cite anything?
Answer: It depends. Your notes or outline could contain quotes from other sources. If so, and
you want to use those quotes, you’ll need to provide citations.