Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a matter of serious concern for students and academic institutions. Most academic institutions impose high standards of academic integrity and penalties for violations can result in failure of an assignment, failure of a course, and even suspension or expulsion from an institution. The UAF Student Code of Conduct defines academic standards expected at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Exactly what plagiarism is and how it can be avoided is often confusing. It is possible to plagiarize material unintentionally by incorrectly paraphrasing. To avoid this pitfall let's first look at a definition and then link to some examples.

plagiarize \ 'plaje,riz \ vb -ed/ -ing/ -s [plagiary + -ize ] vt: to steal and pass off as one's own (the ideas or words of another) : use (a created production) without crediting the source <a learned book of his...had been coolly plagiarized and issued in short version --Times Lit. Supp.> ~ vi : to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

FROM: Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged, (Springfield, Ma: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1986, p.1728).

To see how this definition works in practice let's look at Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University which shows some excellent examples of plagiarism, how appropriate credit can be given to sources, and how passages can be rewritten using our own words and thoughts to avoid plagiarism. Learn their handy strategy on how to avoid plagiarism and learn how to determine what "common knowledge" is.

Plagiarism can be averted by avoiding these most common mistakes.

  • Using a direct quotation without citing the source.
  • Rewriting or paraphrasing without citing the source.
  • Partially paraphrasing (using some of the author's phrasing) and not quoting and/or citing the source.

The arrival of the the Internet has made it both easier to commit and to identify/catch plagiarism. First, it is easier to cut and paste rather than take careful notes. But doing so increases the chances of accidentally plagiarizing either by not properly citing or partially paraphrasing. There are also plenty of places on the Web where one can purchase ready made papers. This is also plagiarism. And remember, web pages are easy to create and anyone with any level of expertise (or lack of it) can publish a paper. The paper for sale may be only worth a "D" at best. The Internet has also made it more difficult to commit plagiarism. Numerous software programs are available that help teachers identify plagiarized papers from web sources. Or, documents can be identified using key words and phrases in a search using a search engine. Students can use some of these same tools to determine whether they may have unintentionally plagiarized material.

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