Research Skills for Developing Writers: Defining Plagiarism

An introductory guide to help multilingual undergraduate writers at the U develop their research skills.

What is Plagiarism?

Different cultures have different ideas about how borrow and cite academic information.  In some cultures, to "tell" an educated reader the source of the information is considered an insult.  In some cultures, all ideas from that culture are considered shared  and "belong to" everyone.  In other cultures, like American culture, ideas are considered the "intellectual property" of the author or creator and using these ideas without permission or citation is the same as stealing. 

In U.S. universities, plagiarism is considered a serious offense with consequences like earning a zero on a paper, failing a course, or getting kicked out of school.  So even though the concept of plagiarism may be different in your home culture, it is important that you understand how it is treated in American universities and what you are expected to do and know about borrowing information from sources for your academic work here.

There are four types of plagiarism:

  1. Intentionally or unintentionally taking someone's words and/or ideas word-for-word and claiming them as your own,
  2. Intentionally or unintentionally paraphrasing someone's words and/or ideas and claiming them as your own,
  3. "Recycling" a paper or project, meaning that you turn in a paper more than once to different professors in different classes
  4. Taking portions of your own previous work and not citing yourself, even though your paper is unpublished and that it is your own work

In order to avoid losing a grade, failing a class, or being expelled from university, it is essential to develop a good habit to cite your sources as you collect them for your research, even if you do not use them in your paper.  This way, you can always find the information and provide the source information (authors, title, publication information, pages numbers, etc.) to your peers, librarians, and instructors.

U of U Student Code Section on Plagiarism

Since you will be responsible for citing sources correctly and avoiding plagiarism, it is important to know the U's    expectations of their students.  Here is a copy and a link to the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities that defines plagiarism and its consequences.  Read the Code to know your responsibilities and rights.  If you have any questions about the Code, your instructor or a librarian would be happy to help you understand.

University of Utah Policy 6-400:

Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities (“Student Code”), Section I. B. 2.

1.  “Academic misconduct” includes, but is not limited to, cheating, misrepresenting one's work, inappropriately collaborating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification of information, as defined further below. It also includes facilitating academic misconduct by intentionally helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic misconduct.

                        a.  “Cheating” involves the unauthorized possession or use of information, materials, notes, study aids, or other devices in any academic exercise, or the unauthorized communication with another person during such an exercise. Common examples of cheating include, but are not limited to, copying from another student's examination, submitting work for an in-class exam that has been prepared in advance, violating rules governing the administration of exams, having another person take an exam, altering one's work after the work has been returned and before resubmitting it, or violating any rules relating to academic conduct of a course or program.

                        b.  Misrepresenting one's work includes, but is not limited to, representing material prepared by another as one's own work, or submitting the same work in more than one course without prior permission of both faculty members.

                        c.  “Plagiarism” means the intentional unacknowledged use or incorporation of any other person's work in, or as a basis for, one's own work offered for academic consideration or credit or for public presentation. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, representing as one's own, without attribution, any other individual’s words, phrasing, ideas, sequence of ideas, information or any other mode or content of expression.

                        d.  “Fabrication” or “falsification” includes reporting experiments or measurements or statistical analyses never performed; manipulating or altering data or other manifestations of research to achieve a desired result; falsifying or misrepresenting background information, credentials or other academically relevant information; or selective reporting, including the deliberate suppression of conflicting or unwanted data. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data and/or results.

Interactive Tutorial: "You Quote It, You Note It!"

Follow these directions to complete an interactive tutuorial on plagiarism, what it is and how to avoid it, from Vaughn Memorial Library at Acadia Univerisity.  Here are a few tips to succeed: 





 Now click on the link to complete the "You Quote It, You Note It!" tutorial.  



Next: Identifying Plagiarism

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