Integrity and Plagiarism in the Classroom: An Overview
Far more familiar on college campuses is the obligatory laundry
list of academically dishonest conduct. Even if no exhaustive list
of unethical or academic dishonest behavior exists, many colleges
have honor pledges that students must sign or write on their assignments,
exams or papers. This guide will highlight four types of behavior
that are considered unethical. Please review your institution or
department’s honor code or academic integrity policy to get
more detailed information on the specific prohibited conduct and
the definitions for the conduct for your institution.
The Modern Language Association defines plagiarism for the scholarly
author as follows:
Using another person’s ideas or expressions in your
writing without acknowledging the source constitutes plagiarism…plagiarism
refers to a form of intellectual theft. In short, to plagiarize
is to give the impression that you wrote or thought something
that you in fact borrowed from someone, and to do so is a violation
of professional ethics. (Gibaldi, 1998)
Plagiarism is a rather ancient concept going back to antiquity.
The Roman poet Martial used the meaning of the Latin plagiarius
(kidnapper) to indicate not only theft of works, but also slaves
(Howard, 1995). With the advent of the printing press and legal
ownership of works generally residing with authors, the importance
of the author has risen dramatically in the modern era. The concept
of copyright and the rights given to authors has developed along
side with the commercialization of writing.
Although recognizing the creator of works is a legitimate reason
why the academic community discourages plagiarism, it is not the
primary reason. Plagiarism ultimately short-circuits the learning
process. If you fail to engage your mind with the subject matter
you are writing about or being tested on, and simply submit another’s
work, you stymie your intellectual growth.
In the course of learning and research, a person is constantly
exposed to new information from various sources. And when incorporating
that research into new work, we are required to properly distinguish
between our work and the works of others we found during our research.
One way of accomplishing this task is through proper attribution.
When we fail to properly document and give attribution to the source
of ideas and text in our work, we commit plagiarism.
Intentional or Un-Intentional
Many plagiarism policies recognize that plagiarism does not depend
on the intent of the person involved. A person can commit plagiarism
intentionally or unintentionally.
Rebecca Moore Howard has identified that most college plagiarism
policies label certain types of textual activities plagiarism (Howard,
2001). These activities include:
- Fraud: submitting a paper written by someone
- Patchwriting: using words and phrases from
a source text (that may or may not have been acknowledged) and
patching them together in new sentences
- Failure to cite: not acknowledging the sources
of words or information
- Failure to quote: not providing quotation
marks for direct quotation (Howard, 2001)
An example of intentional plagiarism would be submission of a term
paper purchased from the Internet as original work. Patchwriting,
failure to cite a source completely or accurately and failure to
quote are often considered unintentional plagiarism. Even if you
do not quote directly from a source, if reading that work contributed
to the ideas presented in your paper, you must give the author proper
credit by including their work in your bibliography.
Consult your university or department’s policy on plagiarism;
they should define exactly what these categories mean. You might
also be surprised to learn that writing manuals differ regarding
what is considered paraphrasing or patchwriting (Roig, 2001). Again,
you need to familiarize yourself with the proper approach to paraphrasing,
so consult the manual for the citation style assigned. Each of these
types of “unintentional” plagiarism noted above can
be prevented by proper writing styles and by understanding the use
of quotation, paraphrase and summary.
Many university policies define cheating as getting unauthorized
help on an assignment, quiz, or examination. Thus, obtaining answers,
information or help from another student, using unauthorized sources
for answers during an exam, and obtaining exam questions before
an exam and using them are unethical. Other examples of cheating
include unauthorized copying from a student’s paper or using
unauthorized aids such as books or notes.
Fabrication and Falsification
Many universities prohibit the intentional or unauthorized tampering
or creation of information or documentation in any academic exercise.
Examples of this type of behavior would include inventing data,
research results or procedures, creating fake citations for a bibliography
and multiple submission of assignments.
Aiding Academic Dishonesty
Another type of prohibited behavior is intentionally assisting
someone else commit an act of academic dishonesty. For example,
allowing someone to copy your answers from an examination or use
material written by you that you submitted for a grade would constitute
aiding academic dishonesty.