Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (page 2)
Doing research puts you in a position to present views relevant to your topic other than your own. You will discover many interesting ideas. But be sure you keep track of which ideas are your own and which come from other people. You must cite your sources correctly and give credit to others where it is due. That honesty in dealings regarding your coursework is known as academic integrity.
Plagiarism can be defined as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work” (Dictionary.com Unabridged; http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarism).
In other words, you are plagiarizing when you copy the words or the thoughts of someone else and do not tell your audience that those words or thoughts were not originally your own.
Looking Closely at Plagiarism
The most important point to consider about plagiarism is not just that it isn’t fair to others or can result in serious consequences. It is that if you plagiarize, you are passing up a chance for learning.
What’s Wrong with Plagiarizing?
If plagiarism becomes a tempting option, maybe you need to rethink your priorities. Have you given up on school? If not, then the reason you are here is to learn. Doing research, thinking through ideas, and articulating your thoughts in writing are all a big part of that learning experience. You forsake that part when you plagiarize.
There is much more to consider with regard to plagiarism, however. What may seem like an insignificant act can be taken as an indicator of various character traits. For any given instance of plagiarism, any of these might apply:
- You are a thief. Yu couldn't be bothered to put in the required amount of work in terms of the research, thought, and writing the assignment required. So you used someone else's thought, research, and work, and stole the opportunity to learn from yourself!
- You are unimaginative. You used someone else's words and ideas, instead of paraphrasing or summarizing them, so you couldn't, or didn't bother, to think of new ways to express the information and ideas.
- You are dishonest. You didn't cite the ideas or infromation tha tyou used properly, so, in effect, you tried to pass them off as your own.
- You are disrespectful. You didn't have enough respect for those who conceived the original ideas or did important research on the topic to give them the credit they are due. In addition, you didn't have enough respect for the readers of your work to give them the facts of the situation.
- You are unprofessional. Being professional entails extedning a cerain level of courtesy to thers and following the fuidelines for a task, as well as acting ethically. By plagiarizing, you broadcast the fact that you do not care about professional standards and are neither courteous nor ethical. Is that the way you want o present yourself. Probably not. So take care not to plagiarize.
What If You Plagiarize Accidentally?
Maybe you didn’t deliberately plagiarize; maybe it was just an accident or an oversight, but ignorance or accident is really no excuse. You will be informed of the proper ways to cite information for your assignments, but if you aren’t, it is your responsibility to ask about it. Because plagiarism in itself is dishonest and sneaky, it can be difficult to give people who plagiarize the benefit of the doubt that it was not intentional.
Although the penalties for plagiarism vary widely by instructor and institution, it is always regarded as a serious offense. Students who plagiarize may be asked to redo the assignment. They may receive a failing grade for the assignment or for the course. They may be put on academic probation, or they may even be expelled.
Common Instances of Plagiarism
Plagiarism occurs when students include a small part of another person’s work in their own without giving credit to the source or when students submit an entire paper or project created by another person. It can also occur when a whole paper is made up of small parts of others’ work.
There are websites where students can purchase complete papers written on a wide variety of subjects for common courses. Your instructor knows that, too. There are also websites instructors can visit, and just by putting in a small excerpt of text and doing a search, they can find out if a student has misrepresented a part or the whole of the work put forward as his or her own.
In this Internet age, where information is so easy to obtain, it is just as easy to track. So if you ever consider plagiarizing, do not forget it is just as easy for an instructor to run a search on your work as it was for you to commit your crime. But we hope that as a person who values learning—an honest, imaginative, careful, respectful person, with a good work ethic—you will avoid plagiarizing.
The way to avoid plagiarizing is to always cite your sources correctly. Citations are brief notes describing what information sources you used, who originally wrote them and when, and where you found them. They can take the form of footnotes, endnotes, notes within the text, or even a separate resource page that lists all the sources you referred to in your research.
Your school will probably determine which format you must use to cite your sources. Many colleges adopt style guides to be used in all courses that not only illustrate the citation style but also describe the specific page format and organization of papers. In other cases, the particular program, or the instructor, may determine the style guide/citation requirements.
In rare cases, you may find you are given no guidelines regarding what is expected for citing your sources. Seek guidance from the instructor. If none is forthcoming, decide yourself how you will present the citations. Pick a style and apply it, rather than just skipping mention of sources altogether. Always give credit where it is due.
Some common sources for document and citation styles are the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Numerous style guides are available though, so rather than going through any specific style and formatting rules here, we advise you to find out what guide is required in your course or for your school. Many of the guides have associated websites that can be quite useful, so do not hesitate to do a search for information on your school’s preferred guide.
© ______ 2009, Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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