Skip to Main Content

Public Health (General)

Provides resources, strategies, and information on conducting research in Public Health.

Plagiarism in Real Life

In 2023, BMC Infectious Diseases retracted an article due to issues about data and results.

Skidmore M. The role of social circle COVID-19 illness and vaccination experiences in COVID-19 vaccination decisions: an online survey of the United States population. BMC Infect Dis. 2023 Jan 24;23(1):51. doi: 10.1186/s12879-023-07998-3. Retraction in: BMC Infect Dis. 2023 Apr 11;23(1):223. PMID: 36694131; PMCID: PMC9872073.

In 2015, the American Journal of Public Health retracted an article due to improper attributions & materials published elsewhere in a copyrighted source.

Win AZ. Child Farm Laborers. Am J Public Health. 2015 Jul;105(7):1312. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302623. Epub 2015 May 14. Retraction in: Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug;105(8):1726. PMID: 25973808; PMCID: PMC4463389.

For More Information

To find out more about academic integrity at the School of Public Health & at the University of Michigan, follow the links below.

How to Avoid Plagiarism


Plagiarism is using someone else's ideas without giving them proper credit, that is, a citation in your paper.  The key to avoiding plagiarism is give credit where credit is due.

Click here to find some ways to not plagiarize.

Adapted from the Academic Integrity web page, University Library.

Types of Problems

Problem:  Not properly citing sources
Solution:  Citation management software, such as Mendeley, Zotero, or EndNote. You can also carefully note citation information by hand in your research notes, then use the References function in Word to add citations.


When to cite:   When you have quoted someone exactly (placing the quoted material in quotation marks) or have used original information from someone else & have paraphrased it appropriately.

When you don't have to cite:  When you're reporting 1) your own original analysis of other people's original work or 2) common knowledge, that is, information that is commonly known by your peers.  Note that this can change, depending on the context of your writing assignment.

Problem:   Using someone else's ideas exactly as published.
Solutions:  Paraphrase (changing both words and sentence structure) or use the exact quotation and cite the source.


Original text: Ethnic and racial diversity are increasing in many countries, primarily as a result of increased migration linked to globalization of trade, education and markets and to the movement of refugees.  This offers formidable challenges in the development of policies and strategies to promote the reduction in inequalities in health and improvements in health care.  From ch. 8, Raj S. Bhopal, Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Health in Multicultural Societies, 2d ed., Oxford University Press

Plagiarism:  Ethnic and racial diversity are on the rise in many countries, for the most part because of increased migration due to trade around the world, education and markets and to refugees. This makes it hard to develop policies and strategies to reduce inequalities in health and improvements in health care. (12).

This is plagiarism because both the words that are used and the sentence structure are very similar to the original sentence.  Providing a citation to the original source of information is not enough.

Acceptable:  When governments think about developing polices to decrease inequalities in health, it is important to take into account that the rise in refugees and in migration due to trade has increased the variety in racial and ethnicity in many countries. (12).

This is not plagiarism because the information has been summarized using different words and the sentence structure is different from the original text. 


Acceptable:  According to Raj S. Bhopal, the increase that we can see in racial and ethnic diversity around the world "offers formidable challenges in the development of policies and strategies to promote the reduction in inequalities in health and improvements in health care.”(12)

This is not plagiarism because a direct quote is used, with quotation marks, and  the quotation is properly cited.

Writing / Library Help

What Is Academic Integrity?

Image courtesy of Tarleton State University.

The Center for Academic Integrity defines academic integrity as "a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility."

Click here to read more about academic integrity at the School of Public Health.

Note Taking Tool

Taking notes properly is a skill that can help you avoid plagiarism.

Tools to Help You Create Citations

While you can keep track of where you get information by hand (author name(s); name of article, book, web site; journal name; date of publication, volume number, page numbers), you can also use citation management software, such as Mendeley, Zotero, or EndNote to help you:

  • Collect references from article databases, library catalogs, or even web pages by exporting them electronically into a citation management program.
  • Organize references by project, topic, or any other way that makes sense to you.
  • Insert citations and easily format citations and bibliographies in many different styles (such as APA, JAMA, Vancouver).

For an introduction to 4 citation management tools, click here.  For complete information, including handouts & videos, see our Citation Management research guide.