Understanding Academic Integrity

 

Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is an extremely serious violation of academic integrity. The Code of Student Conductdefines plagiarism as “the unacknowledged inclusion, in work submitted for credit, of someone else’s words, ideas, or data.” (8.1-C.6) Plagiarism can occur in a myriad of forms and media. Although most commonly associated with writing, all types of scholarly work, including computer code, music, scientific data and analysis, and electronic publications can be plagiarized. The aim of this section is to help students and faculty deal with the complex and important issue of plagiarism on campus.

A Question of Intent?

Plagiarism, strictly speaking, is not a question of intent. Any use of the content or style of another's intellectual product without proper attribution constitutes plagiarism. However, students plagiarize for a variety of reasons, and awareness of these reasons is essential for understanding the problem of plagiarism.

Some students choose to plagiarize. Whether claiming to be overworked, compensating for their own perceived academic or language deficiencies, or simply hoping to gain an academic advantage, those who choose to claim credit for another's work are guilty of plagiarism. Those who intentionally plagiarize "borrow" either from published sources, such as books, journal articles, or electronic information, or from unpublished sources, such as a friend's paper or a commercial writing service. Whatever the source, such conduct is a direct and serious violation of accepted standards of academic integrity.

Others, however, stumble into plagiarism. Negligent plagiarism can result from ineffective proofreading, sloppy note taking, or, most commonly, simple ignorance about the nature of plagiarism itself. Such inadvertent plagiarism, while not an excuse for what is still a serious breach of academic standards, is a more complex area of academic conduct than straightforward copying. Addressing the issue of negligent plagiarism requires a careful examination of both the definition of plagiarism and the appropriate techniques for scholarly attribution.

What is Plagiarism?

Nearly everyone understands that copying passages verbatim from another writer's work and representing them as one's own work constitute plagiarism. Yet plagiarism involves much more. At LSU plagiarism is defined to include any use of another's work and submitting that work as one's own. This means not only copying passages of writing or direct quotations but also paraphrasing or using structure or ideas without citation. Learning how to paraphrase and when and how to cite is an essential step in maintaining academic integrity.

 

Adapted with permission from the SJS website of the University of Texas at Austin.