Plagiarism: What It Is and How To Avoid It

The passage below is taken from page 20 of the  Fisher College Handbook (pdf):

Plagiarism consists of passing off the ideas and words of another as one's own and is a serious form of academic dishonesty. The College faculty expects that the essays, research papers, graded assignments, and examinations of students be the product of the student whose name appears on the work. Every written assignment must credit the sources from which information is obtained and all direct quotations must clearly credit their author or source. Students can and should consult their faculty when particular questions arise as to when and how to properly acknowledge the work of others within a student's own oral or written expression.

Plagiarism takes many forms. It includes but is not limited to:

  • Downloading a free research paper
  • Copying an article from the Web or a database
  • Buying a paper from a commercial paper mill
  • Quoting less than all the words copied
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing without attribution
  • Faking a citation

For more information on this topic, take a look at the book entitled The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism (2001) by Robert A. Harris. It is located in the Main Library and its call number is 808 H315.

What happens if I get caught?

There are penalties for plagiarizing at Fisher College. Students found guilty of plagiarism subject themselves to severe academic sanction including dismissal from the College. (Refer to page 20 of the  Fisher College Handbook).

How can I avoid plagiarism?

  • Make sure that you give credit whenever you are using or referring to somebody else's words or ideas from a magazine, book, newspaper, song, Web page, or any other medium. Citing a source reveals that you have done research and are able to synthesize findings into your argument.
  • Use a citation manual (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.) as a guide. Copies of citation manuals are available in the Reference Library. Refer to Assembling a List of Works Cited in Your Paper and Citing Sources Within Your Paper on the Fisher College Library's website. Fisher College Library also owns several books that will assist you in understanding the proper use of quotations and citations and how to acknowledge and credit ideas borrowed from others.
  • Ask your professor to clarify what constitutes plagiarism.
  • Take good notes. Develop a technique for taking notes and stick to it. Always keep a record of what you find and where you find it.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to research and write your papers. Procrastination may lead to plagiarism.
  • When in doubt, cite! It's better to be safe than not give credit when you should.

Web Sites that will help you understand and avoid plagiarism:


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