Academic Integrity & Plagiarism

High speed access to information has reshaped academia. It has especially changed the way students research and write papers. A lot less time is spent in the public library and a lot more time is spent in front of private computers. Instant access to virtually unlimited information has been an enormous time saver, but it has come with a price. With only a couple clicks of a mouse, cheating is now just a copy and a paste away. Both students and faculty are responsible for academic integrity.

Academic Integrity is the back bone of higher education. Without respect and honesty to scholarly work, our institution has no value, which in turn means education and degrees have no value. When someone chooses to be academically dishonest, they not only hurt themselves, they hurt their peers, their instructors, and the entire institution of higher education.

Virtually every student knows that plagiarism is claiming someone else’s work as your own. However, most students don’t realize that plagiarism is much more complex. Plagiarism can range from its most egregious form of copying someone word for word and calling it your own, to the less serious misplacing of some quotation marks.

Did you know that plagiarism often happens unintended? Here are some obvious and not so obvious forms of plagiarism:

5 Common Forms of Plagiarism


1. Word for Word copying

This is the worst type of plagiarism. By the time students have reached college, they know this is wrong. It is considered theft and cheating, it is a breach of academic integrity to the highest degree.

Sample:

Learning theorists tell us that writing and thinking are inextricably linked. We cannot write without first thinking, and writing well requires that we first think well. Furthermore, if we put great care into our writing, our writing results in greater clarity in our thinking and increased depth of understanding.

Source:

Learning theorists tell us that writing and thinking are inextricably linked. We cannot write without first thinking, and writing well requires that we first think well. As most of us have discovered when writing for publication, the writing process helps clarify our thinking. Why only when writing for publication? Truthfully, any kind of writing can clarify thinking, but we usually spend more time and care when we intend to publish. This greater care in our writing results in greater clarity in our thinking and increased depth of understanding.

Stout, Roland P. "Teaching Good Writing, Why Bother?." Journal Of College Science Teaching 40.6 (2011): 10-11. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 18 Nov. 2014.


2. Changing Key Words

This type of plagiarism typically occurs because of two reasons.

Either the student does not understand the full definition of plagiarism, and thinks that as long as a few words are changed it is no longer an exact copy and therefore ok, or the student is making an intentional attempt to deceive the instructor. When using a source, you must completely rewrite the idea in your own words. In addition, you still give a parenthetical reference to the author at the end of the summary to show you have borrowed the idea.

Sample:

Given that page totals and manuscript length are often emphasized in academic writing, briefness is a valuable result of writing well.

Source:

Given that page counts and manuscript length are frequently major emphases for academic writing, brevity is a beneficial consequence of writing well.

Smith, Randolph A. "Tell a Good Story Well: Writing Tips." New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2013.136 (2013): 73-83. Wiley Online Library. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.


3. Self Plagiarism

This is a form of plagiarism many students don't know about. Even though it is your own work, every assignment you complete for school should be new work. Turning in old work for new assignments is academically dishonest. How can you grow as a writer if you don't engage in the process?


4. Improper Citation and Misusage

While the previous forms of plagiarism are of the severe variety, there are also other less severe forms of plagiarism. While not knowing how to use sources correctly might not lead to strict academic punishment immediately, ignorance is not an excuse. How likely is a cop going to let you off without a ticket if your excuse is, "I didn't know the speed limit."

Citation without quotation: This is a tiny step above word for word plagiarism because there is an attempt to credit the author, but it is still a serious infraction.

Reading is a complex yet individual task. To make meaning of text, readers connect what they read to their unique prior knowledge and experience (Nauman). Because reading relies on prior knowledge and experience, two people can read a text and come away with separate meanings.

Quotation without citation: This too is a tiny step above word for word plagiarism because the quotes suggest an attempt to give credit, but it is still a serious infraction.

Reading is a complex yet individual task, and "to make meaning of text, readers connect what they read to their unique prior knowledge and experience." Because reading relies on prior knowledge and experience, two people can read a text and come away with separate meanings.

Citation without introduction or connection to your own text: Although not as bad as the two mistakes above, it is still incorrect to have cited text in your essay that stands all by itself. Citations should be introduced or in line with your own writing.

Reading is a complex yet individual task. "To make meaning of text, readers connect what they read to their unique prior knowledge and experience" (Nauman).

Source:

To make meaning of text, readers connect what they read to their unique prior knowledge and experience.

 

Nauman, April D, Terry Stirling, and Arlene Borthwick. "What Makes Writing Good? an Essential Question for Teachers." The Reading Teacher, 64.5 (2011): 318-328.


5. Excessive Quoting

While a student may be using sources correctly and attributing reference where needed, it must be done in moderation. Ultimately it is your writing. What you bring to the discussion should be the most important part of the paper. Excessive Citation usually comes in a couple forms. The first is a single citation that carries on for many lines, and the second is a paper that consist of almost all citations that are glued together with very little of the authors own words.