Plagiarism

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1. About Plagiarism
The purpose of this web page is to explain plagiarism through examples and definitions. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty that you should avoid because it may lead to a failing grade or academic expulsion. The penalties for unintended, or accidental, plagiarism are the same as for intentional planned plagiarism. Like many academic institutions, Marshall University makes use of software that checks if material submitted by students has already been published on the web. Marshall professors are familiar with the published journal literature in their respective field. Since they read multiple student papers, Marshall professors are very good at recognizing recycled papers and professionally prepared and purchased papers. A finding of academic dishonesty is filed in the Office of Academic Affairs and copied to the student's department and college. Plagiarism is not worth the risk.

2. Marshall University's Plagiarism Policy
The Marshall University plagiarism policy as stated in the Green Book is this:
Plagiarism: Submitting as one's own work or creation any material or an idea wholly or in part created by another. This includes:
  • Oral, written and graphical material
  • Both published and unpublished work
It is the student's responsibility to clearly distinguish their own work from that created by others. This includes the proper use of quotation marks, paraphrase and the citation of the original source. Students are responsible for both intentional and unintentional acts of plagiarism.

3. How Students Can Avoid Plagiarism
  • Always give credit whenever you use:
    • an idea or theory created by another person
    • any information like facts, statistics or drawings that are not common knowledge
    • a quotation of another persons' words
    • a paraphrase of another persons' words
  • Place in quotations everything that is copied directly from a source, even when you are taking notes.
  • Paraphrase, but make sure you do more than simply rearrange the original sentences and replace a few of the words.
  • Check what you have written to be certain you have not borrowed words and/or phrases from the original source.
a. Typical Examples
Refer to the following examples of the definition of plagiarism. Please note that different disciplines require different citation formats. Students should refer to the recommended format manuals.

Original source:
Surfing was very popular in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain James Cook arrived there in 1778. Only the kings and chiefs were permitted to ride the best boards or use the best surf locations.But great surfing contests involved many Hawaiians, and the winners were highly respected and were rewarded with rich prizes, often in the form of livestock. (Colliers Encyclopedia, 1992, vol. 21)

Example of acceptable direct quotation:
Although surfing is considered a modern pastime, actually it originated hundreds of years ago, as Colliers Encyclopedia (1992) shows: "Surfing was very popular in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain James Cook arrived there in 1778. Only the kings and chiefs were permitted to ride the best boards or use the best surf locations." (1. pg. 39)

This is acceptable because the original source is cited and the borrowed part is placed in quotes.

Example of acceptable paraphrase with some quotation:
Great surfing contests involved many Hawaiians and the winners received rich prizes. This was taking place "in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain James Cook arrived there in 1778." (1. pg. 41)

This is acceptable because the original source is cited, and the part that is borrowed word for word is placed in quotation marks.

Example of acceptable paraphrase:
Surfing was already a sport of kings and commoners when Cook discovered Hawaii in 1778. Hawaiians who excelled in competions could win fame and valuable prizes.(1)

The paraphrase borrows the facts and ideas in the original source. It is acceptable because it has not borrowed the original wording, sentence structure, or general organization, plus it cites the original source.

Example of unacceptable paraphrase:
Surfing was quite popular in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain James Cook explored in the late 1700's. Only Hawaiian royalty were allowed to ride the best boards or surf in the best areas. But many Hawaiians participated in surfing contests. The winners won respect and were given prizes like livestock. (1)

The paraphrase is unacceptable even though the original source is cited, because it borrows every other word and follows the same basic sentence structure and organization as the original.

Examples of Plagiarism:
Surfing was quite popular in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain James Cook explored in the late 1700's. Only Hawaiian royalty were allowed to ride the best boards or surf in the best areas. But many Hawaiians participated in surfing contests. The winners won respect and were given prizes like livestock.

This is unacceptable because:
  1. The writer failed to cite the source of the ideas or facts. Instead the writer rewords the original and tries to claim another's ideas as their own.
  2. The writer borrows the original sentenced structure and general paragraph organization, only changing around some words and phrases. Each one of these two problems represents an instance of plagiarism.
b. Common Knowledge exceptions
Common knowledge refers to facts that are generally know to all or most people. You do not need to cite or document them. For example:
"Hawaii is one of the 50 states of the United States."

You must cite the source of facts that are not well known, and ideas that interpret facts. For example:
"The Hawaiian alphabet is comprised of only 12 letters." (4)


References

  1. Colliers Encyclopedia. Hawaii Vol. 21, 1992.

  2. Indiana University. Writing Tutorial Services. Plagiarism: What It Is And How To Recognize And Avoid It. http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.shtml

  3. Oregon State University. Office of Student Conduct. Academic Dishonesty - Plagiarism. http://oregonstate.edu/admin/studon/plag.htm

  4. http://www.50states.com/facts/hawaii.htm