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Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a common form of academic misconduct that occurs when writers use the work of others and misrepresent it as their own.

Plagiarism is considered academic misconduct regardless of whether a student intended to plagiarize. That’s why it’s so important to understand what it is and how to prevent it in your own work.

What are some examples of plagiarism?

  • Copying or purchasing an entire paper and submitting it as your own
  • Submitting a paper you have written for credit in more than one course
  • Copying another author's phrases, sentences, ideas, or arguments without citing the source 
  • Not paraphrasing the original source thoroughly enough, even if you have cited it

What kind of information needs to be cited?

In your assignments, you must cite any material created by others, for example:

  • Ideas
  • Words
  • Graphs, charts, or images
  • Data
  • Computer code

You do not need to cite material if it is considered common knowledge (it is widely known and agreed upon in your field).

How can I avoid plagiarism?

Paraphrase and summarize thoroughly.

Most cases of plagiarism occur when students attempt to paraphrase ideas but copy too much of the original text. When paraphrasing or summarizing, be sure to change the structure and as much of the wording as possible to your own. You should include no more than 20% of the original wording and copy no more than 3-4 words in a row from the source (not including technical terms).

Cite your sources.

Place a citation in the text wherever you borrow from another source (unless the information is common knowledge), and provide a complete list of references.

Develop a good note-taking system.

Decide how you will keep track of ideas copied from sources, for example: 

  • Highlight quoted text in your notes
  • Mark paraphrases with a “P” and quotations with a “Q” 
  • Avoid copying and pasting from sources directly into your paper—create a “notes” file to collect these notes.
  • Use a different font colour to record your own ideas

Plan your time.

Many writers commit plagiarism because they run out of time to complete their assignments. Use a calendar to map out your deadlines, and visit Learning Services for a free consultation about how to manage your workload. If you don’t have time to complete an assignment, ask for an extension or do the best you can with the time you have. 

Ask lots of questions.

Plagiarism is a complex topic for academics at all levels. To better understand what it means in your discipline, talk to your instructor or TA about their expectations for citing and referencing. 

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