Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - Alliance for Young Artists & Writers


Copyright & Plagiarism

Be You! Be Original!

We want what you have!

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards may be an awards program, but first and foremost, it’s a celebration of you: your hard work, your unique talents, and your originality! A Gold Key is not the only award we give; another comes long before the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall when our jurors, world-renowned artists and writers, meet you through what you’ve made. It’s your chance to be taken seriously as an artist or a writer, as an individual with a personal voice or vision that belongs to you and you alone.

The Awards hold you to the same standards as professional artists and writers. This doesn’t mean we expect you to spend a decade perfecting a manuscript before sending it out, or to jumpstart a new art movement that completely changes the world. All we ask is that you be yourself! We value originality above all else, and this means no awards can be given to work that is not your own.

There is no formula to receiving an Award. We want you to surprise us, challenge us, let us into your world. In more than 100 years, there’s only one thing we’ve never seen: You! And this is all we want!

So before entering any work to the Awards, make sure it adheres to the plagiarism and copyright guidelines below.

A Guide on Plagiarism and Copyright for Teens & Educators

Work that is entered into the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards must be original work created by the participant. By participating in the Awards, teens agree to the Scholastic Awards participation terms.

If an entered work is found to have been copied from another artist or writer, the work will be disqualified from the Scholastic Awards.

To avoid this from happening, please review these guidelines before entering your work.

How do I know if my work is original?

An original work is one that is new and different from what others have created. This means that you are the author of the work, and the work is not copied from someone else’s original work. Even if there is no exact or literal copying, but the average person may notice substantial similarities between the entered work and the source material, it is possible that the work will not be considered original and should not be entered into the Awards. At this time, we do not consider any work you create using AI tools or that incorporates content generated by AI tools to be your original work.

We understand that artists and writers sometimes create work that references other artists, writers, and popular culture in original and meaningful ways. If your work transforms some sort of source material, then it may be considered original.

We define transformative work as a new work that adds value, substantially changes, comments on, or gives a new expression or meaning to the source. If the entry uses another artist or writer’s work as raw material and transforms the original work by bringing new insights and understandings to the piece, it may be entered into the Scholastic Awards.

Here are some examples of work that should not be entered:

  • A pencil drawing that directly copies a portrait that was taken by another artist or a piece of writing that simply rearranges the words of someone else’s writing is NOT transformative.
  • Changing the medium or visual style of another artist’s work is NOT considered transformative. For example, a painting or drawing of a photograph taken from the internet or a magazine is not considered original and should not be entered to the Scholastic Awards.
  • Creating a painting or digital artwork based on a photo that was taken by someone else, or creating a poem by rearranging the lyrics to a song—does NOT make the work transformative.
  • Cropping or resizing an image that a friend created or that you found on the internet does NOT make the work transformative.
  • Changing the order of the lines in a poem or adding a few words to a sentence written by another author is NOT transformative.
  • Fan art (such as a painting or drawing of an actor, musician, or preexisting character) or fan fiction is NOT considered original work and should not be entered. 
  • A critical essay that copies or paraphrases passages from another piece of writing without citing the source is NOT original work. Paraphrasing, which is restating text by another writer using other words, does NOT make the work transformative.
  • Even if you have permission to use a work or if the work is in the public domain, the work that you submit to the Scholastic Awards must represent a new, original work.
  • AI-generated art and writing.

These examples are simply for guidance and they are not meant to represent all instances of non-transformative work.

What if I cite my sources? Can I use another person’s work or an AI tool if I give them credit?

You may use limited portions of another’s work if you cite your source and if the final product is still an original idea. Written works that take quotations from other pieces of writing should properly cite all sources. For example, you can quote another author in a critical essay if you cite the author in the Works Cited section of your entry. There is no required format for the Works Cited. Feel free to use MLA, ALA, Chicago, etc.

There is no formula, specific number of words, or percentage of someone else’s work that is acceptable to use when entering your work to the Scholastic Awards. What is important is that your finished work is something new and different from your source.

At this point, we are not accepting entries that incorporate content generated by AI tools or are created using any AI tools. 

If you have any doubt about whether an entry is original, we advise that you choose not to enter that work.

Consequences of Copyright & Plagiarism Violations

If the Alliance has reason to believe that an entry violates the participation terms, an investigation into the entry will be opened, which could lead to disqualification. In this event, the Alliance may refuse or revoke the grant of an award, and take such other measures, including the recall or removal of all awards for works submitted during the program year, as the Alliance deems appropriate in its sole discretion. Bear in mind that this policy is in the interest of both the student and the Alliance, since the display or distribution of an infringing entry could result in financial liability for both the student and the Alliance.

What if I find a work that was entered into the Scholastic Awards that isn’t original?

If you suspect that a work was plagiarized, please let us know by emailing us at We will investigate to determine if the work violates our participation terms. Because of student privacy concerns, we will not follow up with you to report on the outcome of our investigation.

Copyright & Plagiarism Protocol

Tips for Preventing Copyright & Plagiarism Violations

  • Educators and participants are responsible for educating themselves on copyright and plagiarism issues. This page is only a guide. There is no formula for creating an original work.
  • For both visual and written entries, always cite all sources, whether the source is protected by copyright or not.
  • There is no number of words required to be included in your work or cap on the percentage of another source you can include in your work that will render your work original.
  • Educators: If a classroom assignment involves any copying of another artist or writer’s work, even if it’s just for the purpose of practicing and learning, please direct students not to enter these works into the Scholastic Awards.
  • The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers uses the following definitions for Copyright and Plagiarism:
    • Copyright is a form of legal protection prohibiting others from copying one’s creative work without permission. A copyright is an intellectual property right. Copyright law grants the creator of an original work the exclusive rights for its use and distribution.
    • Plagiarism is an ethical violation resulting from failure to cite sources and engaging in the act of passing someone else’s work or ideas off as one’s own. This applies even if you have only copied a part, rather than the whole, of another’s work.