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The Writing Center

Plagiarism Resources

According to the "Academic Regulations" section of the Undergraduate Bulletin,

It is every student’s responsibility to become familiar with the standards of academic integrity at the University. Claims of ignorance, of unintentional error, or of academic or personal pressures are not sufficient reasons for violations of academic integrity.*

This means that all students are responsible for knowing and abiding by the University's regulations when it comes to issues in which academics and ethics intersect. While the Bulletin goes on to outline a number of ways in which a member of the University community can violate academic integrity (such as bribery, forgery, cheating on exams, etc.), one of the more widespread forms of Academic Dishonesty is something called "Plagiarism."

What is Plagiarism?

The Undergraduate Bulleting defines "Plagiarism" as follows:

Presenting as one’s own work the work of another person (for example, the words, ideas, information, data, evidence, organizing principles, or style of presentation of someone else). Plagiarism includes paraphrasing or summarizing without acknowledgment, submission of another student’s work as one’s own, the purchase of prepared research or completed papers or projects, and the unacknowledged use of research sources gathered by someone else. Failure to indicate accurately the extent and precise nature of one’s reliance on other sources is also a form of plagiarism. The student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources, the appropriate ways of acknowledging academic, scholarly, or creative indebtedness, and the consequences for violating University regulations.

Examples of plagiarism include: failure to acknowledge the source(s) of even a few phrases, sentences, or paragraphs; failure to acknowledge a quotation or paraphrase of paragraph-length sections of a paper; failure to acknowledge the source(s) of a major idea or the source(s) for an ordering principle central to the paper’s or project’s structure; failure to acknowledge the source (quoted, paraphrased, or summarized) of major sections or passages in the paper or project; the unacknowledged use of several major ideas or extensive reliance on another person’s data, evidence, or critical method; submitting as one’s own work, work borrowed, stolen, or purchased from someone else.*

In other words, if you try to submit someone else's words, ideas, or writing as your own, you're plagiarizing. This does not mean that you cannot incorporate the words and ideas of others into your work--in fact, learning to do so intelligently and responsibly is one of the more valuable skills you can acquire--however, you must always acknowledge when and how you are using words, ideas, etc. that are not your own. For instance, take a look at the passages above that we have pasted in from the Undergraduate Bulletin. In additon to clearly indicating in the sentences that immediately follow these passages that we are referencing the Undergraduate Bulletin, you will notice that each is proceeded by a notation (in this case a "*"), that corresponds to a footnote at the bottom of the page. This footnote provides more detailed information on the source material we have used. This way our readers know when we are incorporating outside information, and they also know where they can look if they would like to check out the originary source on their own.

Where can I go if I am unsure about citations and plagiarism?

Although the example above seems rather "cut and dry," there are cases in which you may be unsure as to whether an idea is yours, someone else's, or something many people refer to as "common knowledge." If you are unsure of when to cite (or how to cite), there are a number of resources available to you.

First of all, the University Library's website offers a number of excellent starting points for students who wish to educate themselves on what plagiarism is (and how to avoid it). Their "When and Why to Cite Sources" page gives further definitions of plagiarism, as well as an explanation of other terms such as "common knowledge":

The Library also offers an interactive plagiarism tutorial entitled "Plagiarism 101":

If you are still unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, you can discuss the matter with your professor, as they are probably quite familiar with citation practices within their particular field of study. You are also welcome to make an appointment with one of our Writing Center tutors.



The Writing Center
University at Albany, SUNY
Humanities Building 140
1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY




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