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Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
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Instruction: Plagiarism

About Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a matter of serious concern for students, faculty and academic institutions. Most academic institutions impose high standards of academic integrity and penalties for violations can result in a failing grade on an assignment, in 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.

Definition of Plagiarism

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).

Examples

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. 


Plagiarism can be avoided by:

  • Citing the source when using a direct quotation.
  • Citing the source when rewriting or paraphrasing content.
  • Citing the source when partially paraphrasing (using some of the author's phrasing) content.

Closing thoughts

  • It is very easy to cut and paste content rather than to take the time to cite something, but doing so increases your chances of accidentally plagiarizing either by not properly citing or partially paraphrasing.
  • There are 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.
  • Numerous software programs are available that help teachers identify plagiarized papers, and documents can be identified using key words and phrases 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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