Answering Textbook Questions with Copied Responses



I’ve been taught to answer textbook questions (chapter review questions, for example) by going back to the relevant pages, looking up the answer and then copying the text to answer the question. In fact, this is how I teach my kids to answer their homework questions. I’m also a senior in college and taking classes. One of my teachers has pointed out that what I’ve been doing is plagiarism. Is this so? Have I been plagiarizing throughout all of my school life?

Thanks for your help,


Hi Confused,

Thanks for your email and inquiry!

The answer is that it depends on your instructor. While copying from the text may have been appropriate for one teacher or instructor, it might not be for another. The straight copying of text--without appropriate attribution--is indeed a form of plagiarism, but whether that constitutes an issue within the context of the assignment or class will depend on the learning goals of the assignment and the instructor's goal in assigning the specific learning task.

That said--and to be on the safe side--you might want to consider rewording the text into your own words and then submitting that as your answer.

Hope this helps!


Jason Chu

Jason Chu