Academic integrity is the central principle on which the academic community depends. If a researcher falsiﬁes data to support an hypothesis, or if a scholar steals the clever ideas of another and claims them as his or her own, the climate of trust that fosters the growth of knowledge and the creation of new ideas is destroyed. For students, copying others' work damages the intellectual integrity of their academic experience; it prevents intellectual engagement with a discipline and inhibits learning. It's unfair because it gives cheaters an advantage over honest students. Moreover, since the value of a university degree is based on the public's trust that graduates of that institution have gained a certain level of knowledge and ability, fraudulent shortcuts devalue the degree. In an attempt to prevent academic fraud, the university punishes those caught, and, depending on the crime, may even expel them from the university.
Plagiarism is perhaps the most common academic fraud and it can range from an extremely serious to a minor offence. Sometimes students knowingly attempt to deceive their instructors; sometimes they commit plagiarism because they are unclear about what it is. This guide is intended to clarify the issue, and to help you avoid plagiarizing when you write.
Plagiarism is a combination of stealing and lying about it afterwards. It means using others' work and misrepresenting that work as your own without giving the author credit: this includes ideas, words, data, computer programming, or any other creative endeavour. An extreme example would be copying or purchasing an entire paper and submitting it as your own. Less extreme would be submitting a paper you have written for credit in another course without prior permission from your instructor. A more common example would be copying another author's phrases, sentences, ideas, or arguments without citing the source.
The University of Guelph takes plagiarism seriously, and will assess one or more of the following penalties for those found guilty of it:
Although we have been speaking about avoiding plagiarism to avoid negative consequences, there are also positive beneﬁts to avoiding plagiarism for students who want to achieve good grades. Referencing actually makes your work appear to be more academic and positions it within the ongoing scholarly conversation or debate in your discipline; it provides an authority to back up your arguments. Citations create the impression that your own argument is founded logically and systematically on previous work (and, hence, is credible). As a result, in many subjects, the more you reference the more scholarly your paper will be. And referencing also beneﬁts others who are interested in pursuing the subject beyond your paper.
In the last few years, attention has been focussed on Internet plagiarism. Some people call it "the new plagiarism," because the advent of the World Wide Web has made information retrieval so simple that student plagiarism appears to have increased: just a few clicks of the mouse, and information can be added directly to your own paper. It is now easier for a student to purchase an entire paper over the Web, to copy an entire article from an on-line journal, or to block and paste entire sentences or paragraphs from an electronic text directly into their papers. There is a kind of anarchy and a blurring of copyright boundaries on the Web that leads students to assume that all of the "free" material available there is not governed by the same rules
as for printed material. But it is. However, it is also much easier for those marking the papers to ﬁnd out the source of the information. Instructors can use easy search methods to ﬁnd electronic articles which use particular words or phrases, and many universities purchase proprietary software or hire Internet businesses which use algorithms to ﬁnd any instance of plagiarism.
The antidote to unknowingly plagiarizing Web material is to follow our Golden Rules #4, #5, and #6. Downloading the webpage (preferably to a disk so that you can virus-check the material before putting it on your hard drive) will assure that you have the URL. Better still, printing the text will make it easy to copy all of the required bibliographical material (author, dates of publication and of access, publisher, etc.) for your reference list, should you later choose to incorporate some of the information into your paper. Ultimately, if you treat all of the words and information you receive from the Internet in exactly the same way that you would the material from a print-based article or book, you will be safe.
For help in citing and referencing from Internet sites, follow the rules in our citation guide series on referencing.
A bibliography, reference list, or works cited page may list the sources you used to compose your paper, but it does not indicate which ideas came from which source.
There are at least two good reasons why you should not simply indicate at the end of a paper the name of the books or articles from which you received your information:
To see how others do this, examine scholarly books and journal articles in your ﬁeld of research. Your course texts may not include citations for information (but will usually include a bibliographical list at the end of chapters or at the back of the book), and popular magazines and newspapers handle references to sources in different ways, so these are not good examples for you to follow.
Information which is considered common knowledge in the ﬁeld is not referenced. This will vary to some extent from discipline to discipline. However, we could say that facts which could be found in a general reference book (historical dates, common deﬁnitions, descriptions of periods or schools of thought, or a country's population or area, for example) need not be referenced. Interpretations which are commonly held and accepted and, in some cases, information from your lectures, may not require acknowledgement. When in doubt, check with your TA or professor.
You always have to give a reference when you quote speciﬁc words or passages from another source. Quoting is usually done only when the words quoted are a) the best, most memorable, or most succinct way of expressing the information, or b) those of an acknowledged master or authority in the ﬁeld.
You also must give a reference when you are using speciﬁc information to support your argument. If this information is not common knowledge, is in dispute within your discipline, is someone else's interpretation of points, or is the result of research done by others before you, you must give credit to the authors. This is not only intellectually honest, but it also gives the information authority, and makes your own argument more credible.
Sweeney & Vannote (1978), for example, showed that many hemimetabolous aquatic insects reach smaller adult size with reduced fecundity when they grow at temperatures above and below their optima.
(An example from Gould, S.J. and Lewontin, R.C. "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: a Critique of the Adaptionist Programme." Ed. Jack Selzer.
Understanding Scientiﬁc Prose. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. 350.) (*MLA style)
Koedinger and colleagues (Koedinger & Anderson, 1998; Koedinger & Tabachneck, 1995) reported that students sometimes ﬁnd it easier to reason about word problems than to perform the analogous symbolic manipulations, and Koedinger and MacLaren (1997) developed a model in which there are both algebraic and verbal methods for solving problems.
(An example from Anderson, John R. and Gluck, Kevin A. "What role do Cognitive Architectures Play in Intelligent Tutoring Systems." Ed. Sharon M. Carver and David Klahr. Cognition and Instruction: Twenty-Five Years of Progress. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2001. 249.) (*MLA style)
Yes it will, if your paper is nothing more than an assemblage of information you have taken from primary or secondary sources, without any analytical interpretation, argument, or thesis. Sometimes students come out of high school thinking that this is what an essay or report is: something that is patched and pasted together from notes they have made from books and articles on a particular subject. But that is not acceptable at the university level. Although it is true that what is expected from a ﬁrst-year student is less than what would be required from a senior student, at all stages of your university experience you should be looking at your subject from more than a descriptive point of view. You should be looking for connections between ideas, building arguments, and gradually developing your ability to discuss your topics in the context of the ongoing conversation within the ﬁeld.
So what your essay or report should look like is not so much a patchwork of other people's ideas, but an attempt to discuss results or argue a point – your own point, which you are supporting with evidence developed from the research you have done. The way that you structure and organize that argument is the frame of your essay or report – your own personal interpretation of the subject – and the reference you make to other people's research or information or interpretations is subservient to the major thrust of that argument. You use their work to support and give authority to your conclusions, or, on the other hand, your references to them can be used as a rhetorical strategy: you can "bounce" off them to lead into your own argument, which may not agree with theirs.
Once again, no. Putting the ideas into your own words (paraphrasing or summarizing the original) does not eliminate the need to reference. The information still comes from that source, and must be credited.
Bolingbroke is well aware that he needs the aid of the disaffected commons as well as the disgruntled and ambitious nobles.1
(An example from Palmer, Barbara D. "Gestures of Greeting: Annunciations, Sacred and Secular." Ed. Clifford Davidson. Gesture in Medieval Drama and Art. Early Drama, Art, and Music Monograph Ser. 28. Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 2001. 150.) (*MLA style)
This is difficult, particularly after you have been working intensively on a topic for some time. Try to paraphrase as you take your notes (except where you copy the exact words inside quotation marks because you consider that your information could not have been said in a better, or more succinct, way), always noting the page numbers for that information. This is one way to be clear about where the idea comes from; also use a different coloured ink to add your own comments beside the information. Such intelligent note-taking strategies also help you to adopt a critical and analytical attitude and develop your own point of view, even at the early information-gathering stages of writing your paper.
Yes, if you are constantly intruding references into your text in a heavy-handed way. This is usually a writing problem more than a sourcing one. Try to work your references into your text as a seamless web, to introduce references into the sentences in a variety of ways, and to write your paper in such a way that you don't have to refer to your sources every sentence or two. In the following examples, the ﬁrst sample shows how referencing can become intrusive and awkward, the second takes the same information and presents it more smoothly.
1 See Barbara D. Palmer, "'Ciphers to This Great Accompt': Civic Pageantry in the Second Tetralogy," in Pageantry in the Shakespearean Theatre, ed. Bergeron, 114-29. In this instance, note that the author cites herself and her own chapter in a previous published book. This is a common practice in academia.
"Bromley and Hill's (2003) theory of the relationship between hand gestures in Lock's drawings and those found in medieval religious art should change the way that art historians interpret her work" (Schumann, Fear and Art 849), but other critics (Jean 49; Legare 32; Martin 15) dislike this new interpretation (Schumann, Fear and Art 849). They argue that this theory is only of interest to those studying her later drawings (Jean 49; Legare 32; Martin 15).(*MLA style)
Schumann argues that "Bromley and Hill's (2003) theory of the relationship between hand gestures in Lock's drawings and those found in medieval religious art should change the way that art historians interpret her work" (Fear and Art 849), but other critics ﬁnd that this new interpretation is only of interest to those studying her later drawings (Jean 49; Legare 32; Martin 15). (*MLA style) (*Note that, following MLA style here, the title of Schumann's Fear and Art is inserted because more than one title is listed in the "Works Cited." In the other instances, there is only one title by each of the other authors; therefore, the titles need not be mentioned.)
The other occasion when you might ﬁnd that you have too many references is if you are referencing even the most commonplace of ideas or facts (the dates of W W II, for example). However, if you have to choose between the two vices, it is better to reference too much than too little.
Although all disciplinary areas are similar in that they are required to indicate whenever words or ideas have been taken from another source, there are differences in the style in which this is done. In the arts and most of the social sciences, there is a considerable use of direct quotation; in the sciences, direct quotation is rare. Since scientists are usually summing up the ﬁndings of research that has preceded their own work, they normally paraphrase these results. Also, in papers for some arts disciplines such as philosophy, where the train of thought is difficult and you don't want to distract from the argument, superscript footnotes or endnotes are appropriate. In the sciences, where the authority and reputation of those whose research ﬁndings have been consistent with those of your paper are of paramount importance, you might begin or end a sentence with a parenthetical citation made up of a string of names and dates:
. . . (Hirshi and D'Amore, 1991; Miano et al., 1993; Nels and Drenckhahm, 1991,1993; Schilingemann et al., 1991; Tilton et al., 1979). (*APA style)
It is true that not all cultures look upon plagiarism in the same way as we do. However, if you are intending to function here as an academic, and if you hope to avoid being penalized or damaging your reputation while you are a student here, you should be extremely careful to follow the rules outlined in this guide.