1.4 Avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism is theft of another's ideas or words. We steal others' thoughts whenever we dishonestly take their data, information, or writing.

Theft undermines the relationships of trust necessary for the free flow of information in the scholarly community. We stand on many shoulders when we do our research and write up our results. We must acknowledge those on whom we stand and give credit where credit is due. Otherwise, others will not be able to check our results, we will not be able to assess their interpretations, and everyone will begin losing the inclination to trust others' work--much less acknowledge it.

How do I know when I have stolen another's writing? I look to see whether there are unusual phrases or terms, or sentences or significant parts of sentences, or paragraphs or significant parts of paragraphs that I have adopted without reference. Any time I use another's ideas or words in this way, I have committed plagiarism, whether I am writing an article, grant proposal, progress report, or exam.

To avoid plagiarism, follow two rules:

1) Attribute: Use quotation marks to indicate the words you are copying from your source.

2) Cite: Use parentheses or footnotes to reference your source.

Writing is difficult work calling for sensitive and nuanced judgment. Combining this fact with the seriousness of the offense of plagiarism, we must insure that we can identify clear cases of plagiarism. Toward that end, complete the interactive exercise for the discipline of your choice under assignments. If you are unsure of which exercise to complete, try "Electrical and computer engineering (open)."

Author: Gary Comstock
Maintained By: Gary Comstock
Last Updated: 2009-06-03