Academic Information & Guidelines

Plagiarism

What constitutes most forms of cheating is obvious, but students often have questions about plagiarism and how to avoid it. It is plagiarism:

  1. to turn in a paper written by another person (including reproduction of such papers). There is a legitimate area in which the student may seek help. A proofreading by another person may help locate mechanical errors, awkward constructions, etc. But “help” does not mean having another person make the corrections or revisions. In any case, the instructor is available to aid the student, and will probably give more reliable assistance than can be obtained elsewhere;

  2. to copy from another source without proper acknowledgement of indebtedness.

  3. to submit as an original work an essay previously submitted for another class or assignment. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 2.7.1 states: “If you must complete a research project to earn a grade in a course, handing in a paper you already earned credit for in another course is deceitful.” Thus, you may not hand in previously submitted work without the express consent of your current professor. If you attempt to recycle your work, it will be treated as plagiarism and, therefore, as a violation of the academic honesty policy.

In general, submitting any work as one’s own when in fact it is not is plagiarism. Furthermore, as MLA Handbook 2.4 indicates, unintentional plagiarism (due to ignorance or carelessness) is nonetheless plagiarism.

“Proper acknowledgment” means giving credit for every idea, sentence, and phrase by documenting with parenthetical references throughout the paper, followed by a Works Cited page; a Works Cited page alone is insufficient. A direct quotation—a word-for-word rendition—from another source must be enclosed within quotation marks, followed by the appropriate parenthetical reference. A paraphrase is not enclosed within quotation marks, but the procedure is otherwise the same. This is also true of borrowed ideas.

Paraphrasing is not merely changing a word or two; it is putting in one’s own words the essence of what somebody else said. The paraphrase usually contains fewer words than the original source. Changing a few words in order to avoid using quotation marks is another form of plagiarism, even though the source is otherwise properly acknowledged. Usually, direct quotation is not as economical as paraphrase, and the writer should use the latter whenever possible.

For more information regarding plagiarism, please see English Department Chairman Dr. Michael Jordan (Delp Hall).