Stop Plagiarism

The purpose of educational requirements like exams and papers is to build student skills through their hard work, and provide an opportunity for evaluation and comparison of student performance. Using improper methods or stealing from the works of others defeat these goals. Cheating is also morally and ethically wrong: it violates the intellectual property rights of knowledge producers, and it treats other honest students unfairly.  

Plagiarism is a form of cheating usually done on written assignments, where a writer uses other people's information without proper credit. Actually, other people's information may be readily appropriated in other media environments.  "Fair use" allowed in some forms of writing (including this page), but might not be allowed in our classroom. Usually, in our academic setting, information sources must be properly credited.   You should be aware of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.  For more information and links to sites about plagiarism go to information literacy, and read the guide "Help stop plagiarism!" 

The most common form of plagiarism these days is to "cut and paste:" namely a plagiarizer would copy words from some website or book and use them in an essay as if the words were her own.  To do this is a violation of academic integrity.  The proper thing to do when using a source is to rewrite the information in your own words AND cite the source. 

Plagiarism takes many forms, including but not limited to:

NOTE: Having other people read your unfinished paper and make suggestions is not plagiarism, but rather should be encouraged as part of the writing process. Do use the Writing Center!

You must cite, or note, each and every quote, and/or all other factual information, judgments or analysis drawn from other sources, even when you use your own wording.  Not only specific words, but also unique ideas and thoughts need citations.  In academic writing, borrowed information, even if it is in your own words, must be cited, since you learned it from your source. That means at the end of every sentence with content information you need to decide whether you need to cite or not.  For more on properly using citations, go to citing.html.

If you may not use quotations, this does not mean you can take someone else's exact words and use them without "quotation marks" (or formatting as single spaced and indented if longer than three lines), even if you cite the passage.  Any use of another person's words must be properly identified.  Not to do so is plagiarism. 
If you use more than two words of another author in a row,  a distinct combination of two words, or even a unique emphasis on one word, you may be directly quoting that author.  

For more on how to properly quote, if you may go to citing.html#quote.

If you know that a student has unwittingly and ignorantly plagiarized, it is your academic duty to explain to the student how the work plagiarizes. 
If you know that a student has knowingly and intentionally plagiarized, it is your ethical duty to report the instance to the instructor.


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Copyright MMVI by Brian A. Pavlac
Last Revision: 14 December 2006

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