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Plagiarism Resources for Faculty

Learn about plagiarism, its consequences, and how to avoid it.

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What is plagiarism?

The Council of Writing Program Administrators offers this definition of plagiarism:

In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledg­ing its source.

Plagiarism is nothing new, and instructors all over the world can very likely come up with dozens of examples they have seen in their classes. With the advent of the Internet, plagiarism has become a lot easier to commit. Faculty need to be aware of what plagiarism is, how it happens, and how to recognize it, but they also need to know how to prevent it and how to show their students that plagiarism is not worth it and that it is easy to avoid.

Plagiarism: causes, types

Causes of Plagiarism/Academic Dishonesty

Anderman & Murdock (2007) list 10 causes of student academic dishonesty, in descending order of frequency:

Being unprepared

Poor or failing grade

Trouble learning the material;  material too difficult

Not being watched

High stakes exams

Others cheat

Students collude to cheat

Trivial or boring work

Not the student's major

Keep financial aid

[Source: Anderman, E.M., & Murdock, T.B. (Eds.).  (2007). Psychology of academic cheating. Boston, MA: Elsevier.]

Types of Plagiarism

Intentional plagiarism involves knowingly committing fraud: buying essays (or downloading them for free), using friends' essays, reusing one's own old materials, asking friends to write essays, copying verbatim from one or more sources, using synonyms but maintaining sentence structure, etc., are all evidence of intent to deceive. Many students may not think this is important or even unethical, or they may think that they are justified to plagiarize, due to pressure, lack of time, etc.

Unintentional plagiarism involves a lack of understanding of what plagiarism is and how to prevent it. Students may be unskilled at paraphrasing, or they may not know how to use sources to back up arguments.  Students should be made aware that in many institutions, unintentional plagiarism still counts as academic dishonesty and can lead to penalties.

Self-plagiarism involves reusing one's own work without proper attribution. Many times students resubmit papers written for another course or for a previous iteration of the current course.  Resubmitting an old paper and passing it as a new paper is a form of cheating and a violation of academic integrity codes.  The exception would be if the instructor has given permission for this to take place -- this permission should be given in writing, to forestall possible problems later.

PVCC Plagiarism Policy

From the PVCC Student Handbook, page 54:

Piedmont Virginia Community College sets high standards for academic integrity, and takes academic dishonesty very seriously. The following misconduct is considered an honor offense and is subject to disciplinary action:

A. All forms of dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, knowingly furnishing false information to the college or instructors, and the forgery, alteration or use of college documents or instruments of identification with the intent to defraud.

1.Plagiarism is the appropriation of passages, either in word or in substance, from the writings of another and the incorporation of those passages as one’s own written work offered for credit. It is always assumed that the written work offered for credit is the student’s own unless proper credit is given to the original author by the use of quotation marks and footnotes or explanatory inserts;

2.Collaboration with another person in the preparation or editing of notes, themes, reports, or other written work offered for credit is prohibited unless such collaboration has been specifically approved in advance by the instructor. Examples of collaboration include extensive use another’s idea for preparing a creative assignment and receiving undue assistance in the preparation or editing of written materials.

3. Giving or receiving, offering or soliciting information on any quiz, test, or examination is prohibited; this includes the following:

  • copying from another student’s paper;
  • use of prepared materials during the examination;
  • collaboration with another student during the examination;
  • buying, selling, stealing, soliciting or transmitting an examination or any material purported to be the unreleased contents of a (coming/pending) examination or the use of any such material;
  • substituting for another person during an examination or allowing such a substitution for one’s self; and
  • bribery of any person to obtain examination information.

4.Using electronic or internet resources without the permission of the instructor, such as a translation program for a foreign language assignment, is prohibited.

5.Knowingly furnishing false information to the college is prohibited.

6.Giving false information as a reason for missing a test or class is prohibited.

7. Forgery, alteration, or misuse of college documents, records, or identification cards is prohibited.