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Summer Start 2015: Academic Honesty & Plagiarism

Definition of Plagiarism

Bart Simpson I will not plagiarize

Many students have heard the classic definition, that it's using someone else's work without citing the source. Plagiarism can take other forms, however, including:

  • Re-arranging an author's words (paraphrasing) and using it without a citation

  • Using someone else's ideas without citing the source

  • Using a photograph or image and not including a citation

  • Submitting the same paper for two different assignments

It does not matter whether you intended to plagiarize or whether the plagiarism occurred unintentionally; ignorance of the rules of correct citation is not an acceptable excuse for plagiarism.


We'll be covering the College's academic honesty and plagiarism policies. 


A simple explanation of academic honesty can be found in one of the books in the Gingrich Library, Doing Honest Work in College. The author, Charles Lipson, states that academic honesty boils down to three simple but powerful principles and lists them as follows:

  • "When you say you did the work yourself, you actually did it."
  • "When you rely on someone else's work, you cite it. When you use their words, you quote them openly and accurately, and you cite them, too."
  • "When you present research materials, you present them fairly and truthfully. That's true whether the research involves data, documents, or the writings of other scholars."

A Magical Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism explains the when and how to cite.

Video: Guide to Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. Do not procrastinate. When you wait until the last minute to begin working on an assignment, you will feel rushed.  Either you will fail to document the use of your sources accurately or you might make a poor choice and choose to simply "copy and paste" together your paper.  Not a good idea.  To avoid this potential hazard, start early.  You will thank yourself later.

  2. Get comfortable with your required/ often used citation style. The more you use your chosen citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago), the more comfortable you become with appropriately using it and documenting your sources accurately. Consult the style guides for the format, such as the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, the MLA Handbook, etc.

  3. Keep track of your source materials. The best way to do this is have an actual copy of your source.  Print out, copy the source, or save the electronic copy. It is much easier to work with paper material, than try to remember where you found a source. 

  4. Take good notes.  Take complete notes, and include author's names and page numbers for easy reference later. Within your source material, highlight key passages and annotate the text in the marginsJust be sure you are doing this note taking in a copy of the source material--not highlighting in a library book.

  5. Maintain a working bibliography. Essentially, keep a list of any sources that you consult or think you might include in your assignment. Make sure that in this working bibliography you note the important citation information for your source material (ex. title, author, publication information, URL, etc.) Use the citation tools available in databases, word processing software, and online.

  6. Ask your librarian or professor. If you are unsure about how to cite source material or whether or not something should be cited, check with your instructor or librarian; they are the professionals.

For a review of the college's Academic Honesty and Plagiarism policies, see the Gingrich Guide section here.

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty can subject a student to both academic discipline and disciplinary action.