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Statement on Plagiarism

Students assume the responsibility for providing original work in their courses without plagiarizing. According to the sixth edition of the Little, Brown Handbook, plagiarism "is the presentation of someone else's ideas or words as your own" (545). Similarly, the fifth edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers states, "to use another person's ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is to plagiarize . . . A writer who fails to give appropriate acknowledgment when repeating another's wording or particularly apt term, paraphrasing another's argument, or presenting another's line of thinking is guilty of plagiarism" (30). Academic writing assignments that require the use of outside sources generally are not intended to teach students to assemble a collection of ideas and quotes, but rather to synthesize the ideas they find elsewhere in order to construct new knowledge for themselves. This process requires a higher level of thinking than some students may have been trained to engage in, and inexperienced writers may be sorely tempted to copy wording they feel inadequate to improve or even restate. Plagiarism is a serious issue that violates most people's sense of property rights, honest representation, and fairness.

Deliberate plagiarism centers on the issue of intentionality. If students deliberately claim another's language, ideas, or other intellectual or creative work as their own, they are engaged in a form of intellectual theft. This is not tolerated in academic, business, and professional communities, and confirmed instances of plagiarism usually result in serious consequences. Similarly, submitting the work of another person or submitting a paper purchased from another person or agency is a clear case of intentional plagiarism for which students will be subject to the severest penalties.

Unintentional plagiarism often results from misunderstanding conventional documentation, oversight, or inattentive scholarship. Unintentional plagiarism can include forgetting to give authors credit for their ideas, transcribing from poor notes, and even omitting relevant punctuation marks.

Self-plagiarism occurs when students submit papers presented for another course, whether for the English department or another department or school. Students may submit papers for more than one course only if all instructors involved grant permission for such simultaneous or recycled submissions.

Penalties for plagiarism may range from failure for the particular assignment to failure for the course. In accordance with the academic grievance procedures of Wilkes University, cases of plagiarism will be addressed first by the instructor. Any appeals by the student should be directed to the department chairperson.

Students can avoid plagiarizing by taking careful notes during the research process and by following these general principles when incorporating outside sources into their writing:
  • The exact language of another person (whether a single distinctive word, phrase, sentence or paragraph) must be identified as a direct quotation and must be provided with a specific acknowledgment of the source of the quoted manner.

  • Paraphrases and summaries of the language and ideas of another person must be clearly restated in the author's own words, not those of the original source, and must be provided with a specific acknowledgment of the source of the paraphrased or summarized matter.

  • All visual media, including graphs, tables, illustrations, raw data, audio and digital material, are covered by the notion of intellectual property and, like print sources, must be provided with a specific acknowledgment of the source.

  • Sources must be acknowledged using the systematic documentation method required by the instructor for specific assignments and courses.

  • As a general rule, when in doubt, provide acknowledgment for all borrowed material.

Different disciplines use different documentation methods; therefore students should consult instructors about the correct use of the appropriate documentation style. The Writing Center offers online style manuals that detail correct forms for acknowledging sources and citing resources. The Farley Library and the college bookstore offer manuals in print form. Additional resources and guidance in the correct use of sources can be obtained at the Writing Center (Breiseth 018) and from individual instructors.
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