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How to Avoid Plagiarism

A guide on avoiding plagiarism specifically designed with international students in mind but applicable to all students.

International Standards of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is using ideas and information from outside sources without giving credit to the original author. Every time you use an idea that you got from an outside source you must cite that source or you are plagiarizing. This is a very serious academic offense in the United States and it can lead to a variety of disciplinary measures including a failing grade or expulsion.

There are different standards across the globe defining plagiarism. Understanding what constitutes plagiairism in your home country doesn't necessarily mean that you understand the definition in every country. Click through the tabs to see how differently plagiairism can be defined and treated.

Plagiarism is the act of using the work of others (in particular the writing of others) as one's own.

The most obvious and substantial type of plagiarism is copying whole articles, sections, paragraphs or whole sentences from other publications without acknowledgement. This is clearly unacceptable.

However, even the use of a few words or paraphrasing (without actually copying any words at all) may constitute plagiarism if the source is not acknowledged. Students sometimes unintentionally plagiarize because they are not aware of the very stringent rules that apply. Students must read the guidelines provided.

If material is taken from a source, there shall be proper quotes and acknowledgements. For reference styles, see the examples provided.

At King's College London, Plagiarism is defined as:

Plagiarism is the most common form of academic misconduct, and may arise intentionally or otherwise (e.g. through negligence, poor scholarship or lack of understanding). At King’s plagiarism is defined as the taking of another person’s thoughts, words, results, judgements, ideas, images etc, and presenting them as your own; including take home/online/open book assessments or examinations. 

Examples of plagiarism include but are not limited to:

  • Copying: a student should not copy someone else’s work or thoughts and pass this off as their own, even if s/he has their permission. This includes using images and audio-visual presentations without acknowledgement;
  • Incorrect referencing: a student should not insert the writing or thoughts of others into their written work without the correct referencing;
  • Copying and pasting: a student may not copy text verbatim or closely paraphrase a source text and pass this off as their own, without using quotation marks and citing the original source;
  • Paraphrasing: a student should avoid closely paraphrasing someone else’s work (e.g. by changing the words or the order of the words slightly) and should always acknowledge the source using the appropriate citation conventions which vary according to discipline.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Self-plagiarism is submitting material for academic credit which has been submitted, previously or simultaneously, for academic credit from King’s, or any other awarding body, or work produced by the student for other purposes (e.g. published articles) [without permission to do so and clear reference that it has previously been submitted]. 

 

Honor Pledge (Anti-Plagiatserklärung)

In order to verify that your work—your ideas, words, and structure—is wholly your own, and does not lift from or imitate other sources without due acknowledgment, you may be required to include a signed declaration to that effect. Check with your teacher if you are unsure about including this statement; in any event, it cannot do you any harm to certify that your work is your own!

The following statement should be included either after your Title Page, or after the Works Cited/Bibliography section of your paper:

 

I declare that I have read and understood the material exemplifying and explaining cases of plagiarism included in the Studienführer ('Genius borrows nobly': Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism), and that my paper contains no plagiarized material and is solely my own work. I am aware of the fact that should my paper be found to contain plagiarized material or to have been written in part or whole by someone else, this will entail serious consequences. These include the following:

  1. The reason for my failure will be recorded by the department.

  2. I will not be given credit for the course.

  3. The Honor Board may review my paper and suggest additional sanctions, including expulsion.


Furthermore I am aware that submitting the same or a revised paper in two separate courses without the instructors' explicit consent will result in similar consequences."

 

Sign and date the statement.

 

Unintentional Plagiarism is Still Plagiarism

There are many reasons that one might plagiarize and they are not all malicious. Whether you intentionally use the work of others without giving proper attribution or you unintentionally do so, it is always plagiarism to use the ideas and words of others without giving proper credit. It is important to remember to take good notes when doing your research so that you do not accidentally use someone else's words or thoughts without giving them credit.

University of Richmond School of Law Definition of Plagiarism

At the University of Richmond School of Law, plagiarism is considered a form of cheating and is an infraction of the Honor Code.  

  • The Honor Code is intended to address academic misconduct and other forms of deceitful conduct that may give one student an unfair advantage over others. 
  • Cheating - Cheating is any act performed with the intent to gain an unfair advantage in any Law School Activity. It includes, but is not limited to: 1) plagiarism (plagiarism occurs when a student, with intent to deceive, presents any information, ideas or phrasing of another as if they were her own)
  • Students accused of plagiarism will be investigated by the Grievance Committee of the Honor Council and appointed a Student Advocate; the accused has the right to representation and to see evidence.
  • If the student is charged with plagiarism after an investigation, the Honor Council prepares for either trial or informal resolution; regardless of the outcome, the Honor Council must report the name of the accused and the outcome to the Dean. 
  • Sanctions may include a recommendation for a failing grade, suspension, or expulsion.
  • The Dean may, depending on the outcome, have to report the incident to the State Bar.

 

Understanding the Definition

Because plagiarism is such a serious academic offense in the law, and at Richmond, it is important to understand exactly what is is so that you can avoid it. The most blatant form of plagiarism is the copying of large sections of another person's work without providing a citation.

For Example:

When you encounter a difficult or controversial issue don't assume that people will react a certain way. Even though society at large might feel a certain way the one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. For this reason, you must appeal to each person individually on these issues.

Plagiarism also occurs when you copy exact phrases, even if you do provide a citation, if you don't use quotation marks.

For Example:

When you encounter a difficult or controversial issue don't assume that people will react a certain way. Even though society at large might feel a certain way the one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. For this reason, you must appeal to each person individually on these issues.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 140 (1982).

It is important to remember to always use quotation marks around exact phrasing that you have used from another's work. It is also important to remember to always provide a citation when directly quoting.

For Example:

When you encounter a difficult or controversial issue don't assume that people will react a certain way. Even though society at large might feel a certain way, "the one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." For this reason, you must appeal to each person individually on these issues.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 140 (1982).