How do you define plagiarism? And, what strategies do you use to ensure that you avoid committing plagiarism in your academic and professional lives?

Words: 1624
Pages: 6
Subject: Education

Assignment Question

Plagiarism is a very serious matter, not just at CUNY SPS, but well beyond. In mid-2018, Melania Trump was in the news regarding a plagiarism accusation over a cyber-safety booklet and back in 2016, she was also accused of plagiarism over her speech at the Republican National Convention. Review the two articles (see hyperlinks), the comparisons between the two cyber-safety booklets, and the videos about the speech similarities between Melanie Trump and Michelle Obama. Based on what you’ve learned in Week 12, were these instances of plagiarism? Why or why not? How do you define plagiarism? And, what strategies do you use to ensure that you avoid committing plagiarism in your academic and professional lives? Links:


Plagiarism is a pervasive issue that transcends the boundaries of academia, extending its tendrils into professional and public spheres. The impact of plagiarism is profound, not only affecting individuals but also undermining the integrity of institutions. In this comprehensive essay, we delve into two contentious instances involving Melania Trump, the former First Lady of the United States, who faced accusations of plagiarism. The first case pertains to a cyber-safety booklet in 2018, while the second involves her speech at the Republican National Convention in 2016. By scrutinizing the evidence and applying the principles learned in Week 12, we will evaluate whether these accusations constituted instances of plagiarism and explore the broader definition of plagiarism. Additionally, this essay will delve into strategies aimed at preventing plagiarism in both academic and professional life.

Defining Plagiarism

Before delving into the analysis of Melania Trump’s cases, it is imperative to establish a comprehensive understanding of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a multifaceted transgression encompassing the act of using another person’s words, ideas, or work without appropriate attribution, thereby passing them off as one’s own. This constitutes a grave breach of intellectual integrity and an infringement on the rights of the original creator. Plagiarism takes on various forms, ranging from outright verbatim copying to subtle paraphrasing without adequate citation. Regardless of its manifestation, plagiarism is universally deemed unethical and academically dishonest.

Melania Trump’s Accusations

Cyber-Safety Booklet (2018) In May 2018, Melania Trump encountered allegations of plagiarism concerning a cyber-safety booklet released as part of her “Be Best” campaign. The accusations primarily revolved around the uncanny similarities between her booklet and one published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Critics argued that Melania Trump’s team had copied content and ideas without proper attribution (BBC News, 2018).

Analysis: To determine the plagiarism aspect of this case, it is imperative to consider whether Melania Trump’s team knowingly employed content from the FTC’s booklet without due credit. While similarities between the two booklets were unmistakable, the crucial element to assess here is intent. Melania Trump’s team contended that these similarities were purely coincidental, asserting that they had conducted thorough research. In the absence of concrete evidence demonstrating a deliberate attempt to plagiarize, labeling this incident as clear-cut plagiarism becomes challenging. However, this situation does underscore the importance of meticulous research and citation practices to maintain academic and professional integrity.

To delve further into the intricacies of this case, it is necessary to explore the concept of intentionality in plagiarism. Intentional plagiarism implies a calculated effort to present someone else’s work as one’s own. Conversely, unintentional plagiarism transpires when individuals inadvertently fail to provide proper attribution. The case of Melania Trump’s cyber-safety booklet seems more aligned with the latter, suggesting that there might not have been a deliberate act to deceive. Nevertheless, it serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of rigorous research and citation practices.

Republican National Convention Speech (2016) In July 2016, Melania Trump delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention that bore striking resemblances to a speech delivered by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The glaring similarities ignited immediate accusations of plagiarism (BBC News, 2016).

Analysis: The 2016 speech incident garnered widespread attention due to the verbatim parallels between Melania Trump’s speech and Michelle Obama’s. In this case, it is irrefutable that portions of Melania Trump’s speech were directly copied without the requisite attribution. This aligns more closely with the conventional definition of plagiarism, as it involves the uncredited utilization of another individual’s words. Eventually, Melania Trump’s speechwriting team acknowledged the similarities and assumed responsibility for this oversight.

Expanding on this case, it is essential to contemplate the ramifications of plagiarism within the public and political spheres. Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention was a high-profile event, attracting significant media scrutiny. The allegations of plagiarism not only tarnished her personal reputation but also cast aspersions on the integrity of her campaign and the competency of her speechwriting team. Public figures and politicians are held to exceptionally high ethical standards, and allegations of plagiarism can inflict severe damage upon their credibility and erode public trust. This case serves as a stark reminder of the criticality of ethical conduct in all facets of public life.

Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism

To preclude the commission of plagiarism within academic and professional contexts, individuals can employ a diverse array of strategies:

Proper Citation: It is incumbent upon individuals to unfailingly cite the sources of information they employ, encompassing text, ideas, images, and data, utilizing the pertinent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

Paraphrasing and Summarizing: When integrating the work of others into their own, individuals must endeavor to rephrase it in their own words while ensuring that due citation is provided. Summarizing key points is another effective method to steer clear of verbatim copying.

Quotation Marks: Direct quotations must be enclosed within quotation marks, accompanied by the author’s name, publication year, and page number (where applicable) in the citation.

Plagiarism Detection Tools: The adoption of plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin or Grammarly can be invaluable in scrutinizing one’s work for inadvertent plagiarism.

Time Management: Effective time management is instrumental in averting last-minute rushes, thereby affording individuals ample time to conduct thorough research, write, and cite sources correctly.

Seek Guidance: When faced with uncertainty regarding citation or attribution practices, individuals should not hesitate to seek counsel from professors, mentors, or colleagues.

Ethical Awareness: The cultivation of a robust ethical awareness is pivotal in comprehending the repercussions of plagiarism and championing intellectual honesty.

Expanding upon these strategies, it is imperative to underscore the pivotal role of education and awareness in the prevention of plagiarism. Educational institutions, including CUNY SPS, play a pivotal role in instilling in students the significance of ethical research and writing practices. Faculty members proffer invaluable guidance on appropriate citation and attribution practices, and academic integrity policies are enforced to dissuade instances of plagiarism.

Moreover, plagiarism detection tools have burgeoned into indispensable resources for both students and educators. These tools serve as vigilant guardians, unearthing potential instances of plagiarism and presenting individuals with opportunities to rectify their errors and glean essential lessons. Nonetheless, it is crucial to regard these tools as supplements to the writing process rather than sole arbiters, as they may not unfailingly detect all forms of plagiarism.


Plagiarism stands as an issue of paramount importance, wielding its influence over academic, professional, and public realms. The cases of Melania Trump’s cyber-safety booklet and her speech at the Republican National Convention offer invaluable insights into the intricate tapestry of plagiarism allegations. The element of intent plays a pivotal role in determining whether plagiarism has occurred, with unintentional instances underscoring the gravity of exhaustive research and citation practices.

In the public and political spheres, allegations of plagiarism can precipitate profound repercussions, affecting the credibility and public trust invested in individuals and institutions. Public figures, in particular, are held to the loftiest ethical standards and must be vigilant in eschewing plagiarism.

To forestall plagiarism, individuals must ardently commit themselves to the tenets of proper citation, paraphrasing, and summarization, supplemented by the judicious utilization of plagiarism detection tools where appropriate. Academic and professional integrity hinges upon the respect accorded to the work and ideas of others, juxtaposed with the provision of due credit for their contributions. Education, awareness, and an unwavering commitment to ethical conduct constitute the bastions in the ceaseless struggle against plagiarism.


BBC News. (2018, May 8). Melania Trump faces new plagiarism row over cyber-safety booklet

BBC News. (2016, July 19). US election: Melania Trump “plagiarised” Michelle Obama. 


Q: What is plagiarism, and why is it considered unethical?

A: Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work, ideas, or words without proper attribution, passing them off as your own. It is unethical because it violates the principles of intellectual honesty and integrity. Plagiarism undermines the original creator’s rights and misrepresents the plagiarizer’s abilities and efforts.

Q: How can unintentional plagiarism be avoided in academic writing?

A: Unintentional plagiarism can be prevented by carefully citing all sources, including paraphrased and summarized content. It’s essential to use quotation marks for direct quotes, follow a citation style guide, and employ plagiarism detection tools to review your work for inadvertent instances of plagiarism.

Q: What are the consequences of plagiarism in academia?

A: Consequences of plagiarism in academia can range from receiving a failing grade for the assignment or course to academic probation or expulsion. Plagiarism can damage one’s academic and professional reputation and may lead to legal repercussions, depending on the severity of the offense.

Q: How do I properly cite sources in my research paper?

A: Proper citation involves acknowledging the original source of information by providing the author’s name, publication year, title, and publication details according to a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). In-text citations and a comprehensive bibliography or reference page are typically used.

Q: Are there plagiarism detection tools available to students and researchers?

A: Yes, there are several plagiarism detection tools like Turnitin, Grammarly, and Copyscape available to help students and researchers identify potential instances of plagiarism in their work. These tools compare the text against a vast database of sources to check for similarities.

Q: How can educators promote awareness of plagiarism among students?

A: Educators can promote awareness of plagiarism by incorporating discussions on academic integrity into their curriculum, providing clear guidelines on citation and referencing, and explaining the consequences of plagiarism. They can also encourage open communication about ethical writing practices.

Q: Can accidental plagiarism still result in academic penalties?

A: Yes, accidental plagiarism, even if unintentional, can lead to academic penalties. Many educational institutions take plagiarism seriously and hold students accountable for improper citation or failure to attribute sources correctly. It’s essential to follow citation guidelines to avoid such penalties.

Q: Is self-plagiarism a form of plagiarism, and why should it be avoided?

A: Yes, self-plagiarism is a form of plagiarism where a person reuses their own work without proper citation. It should be avoided because it misrepresents the novelty of a piece of writing and can compromise academic or professional ethics, depending on the context.