Study after study shows an alarming rate of plagiarism and cheating among undergraduate students. Offenses can range from wholesale copying of another writer’s work, to a failure to cite an informational source in a way that gives proper attribution and allows the source to be identified and referenced. A number of prominent universities have established programs devoted to supporting academic integrity both through the development of techniques to detect plagiarism, and the encouragement of an academic culture that discourages dishonesty and encourages students to develop their ideas through effective and ethical means.
- Guide to Plagiarism and Cyber-Plagiarism: An overview featuring statistics and definitions from the University of Alberta Library.
- Online Instructional Resources: Additional resources on plagiarism – including additional statistics from Michigan State University.
- Academic Integrity Council: Duke University’s effort to combat dishonesty and provide information and strategies to others to do the same.
- Center for Academic Integrity: Clemson University’s Center, with broad information, research, curricula guidelines, and policy recommendations.
Policy and Enforcement
Colleges and Universities almost universally have specific policies on academic plagiarism. Typically, when plagiarism is suspected, an instructor will conduct an investigation to define the scope and severity of the infraction. If the instructor believes that the work indeed involves or constitutes an act of plagiarism, there will be a formal investigation conducted by a higher authority established by the school. Disciplinary measures taken as a result typically range from a failing grade on the assignment involved, to expulsion from the institution. These consequences are generally spelled out in academic handbooks, and frequently reinforced by on-campus workshops and class syllabi.
- Plagiarism: Frequently asked questions about plagiarism – including the policy on plagiarism from Hope College.
- Plagiarism and Collaboration: A comprehensive policy on plagiarism and collaboration from Harvard University.
- Plagiarism Policy: An example of plagiarism policy of the Rutgers University Sociology Department.
- Policies Online: List of policies on plagiarism for teachers and students from the University of Maryland University College’s Center for Intellectual Property.
- Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism Policy: Policy on academic plagiarism from Lake Tahoe Community College.
Intentional vs. Unintentional Plagiarism
Intentional plagiarism, occurs when a student misrepresents either actual text, or original information as his or her own. Unintentional plagiarism generally occurs when a student fails to properly cite a source in a way that can be confirmed, or includes information which does not need to be cited, but uses language that does not represent the student’s own words. The practice of paraphrasing text can result in unintentional plagiarism when a student fails to recognize that the information being paraphrased is not universally understood, and in fact, requires a citation.
- Baylor School: Intentional and Unintentional Plagiarism: Information on intentional and unintentional plagiarism and the difference between the two.
- The Shadow Scholar: The personal story of an academic “ghost writer,” from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Syracuse University: Famous Cases of Plagiarism and Fraud: List of famous cases of fraud and plagiarism.
In order to avoid plagiarism, one must learn how to properly cite sources of information. There are a number of sources online that provide information and examples of how to properly cite a piece of work. Colleges, universities, departments and instructors will often specify a specific citation style for academic writing. Adherence to this style will help eliminate unintentional plagiarism, and help the student present a well-written piece of work.
- College Board: How to Avoid Plagiarism: Article on how to avoid plagiarism.
- Duke University: Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism: Site that advises how to cite sources in order to avoid plagiarism.
- University of California at Berkeley: Citing Your Sources: Teaches how to properly cite sources in order to avoid plagiarism.
- APA Format: A guide to the American Psychological Association format from Purdue University.
- MLA Format: Also from Purdue University, a guide to the Modern Language Association format.