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A Few Words on Plagiarism

Plagiarism is one of the most frequently encountered forms of academic misconduct on college and university campuses. The following ETSU document  No. 3.13, dated October 1, 1979, states the University's official policy on academic misconduct:

"All students in attendance at East Tennessee State University are expected to be honorable. Academic misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action. Any act of dishonesty in academic work constitutes academic misconduct. This includes plagiarism, the changing or falsifying of any academic documents or materials, cheating, and the giving or receiving of unauthorized aid in tests, examinations, or other assigned school work.

"Penalties for academic misconduct will vary with the seriousness of the offense and may include, but are not limited to: a grade of 'F' on the work in question, a grade of 'F' for the course, reprimand, probation, suspension, and expulsion. For a second academic offense, the penalty is permanent expulsion."

Plagiarism is frequently the unintentional result of a student's ignorance of what plagiarism is and how it can be avoided. At its simplest, plagiarism may be defined as the act of passing someone else's work off as one's own. Violations usually include:

  • presenting the exact words of a source without quotation marks;
  • using another student's computer source code, algorithm, or laboratory results (measurements) or copying a laboratory report;
  • presenting information, ideas, or facts summarized from a source without giving credit;
  • submitting a term paper purchased from a commercial company or a report from another student; and
  • copying large segments of an author's words without properly citing the source.

Students frequently commit these and other forms of plagiarism by:

  • not understanding how to begin an assignment or not asking the assistance of the instructor;
  • having greater faith in work produced by other students than their own;
  • not looking for needed references and resources early enough;
  • not allowing enough time to complete an assignment properly;
  • believing that they will not get caught and/or punished for their actions; and
  • not being able or willing to read references with the intent of digesting and understanding the material so that the ideas and information can be paraphrased or summarized in the student's original phrasing and word choices.

When preparing a paper or a report, be certain that you give appropriate credit to EVERYONE whose work may be contained within your work. Fully and thoroughly record all bibliographic information in the format specified previously in this book. Consult with your instructor when you are not certain or have questions. Finally, utilize the assistance offered by the ETSU resources listed in the next section.

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Last updated on Tuesday, August 16, 2005 by Bill Hemphill