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Ethical Use of Information

What is Plagiarism?

When we talk about "academic integrity," we frequently think of plagiarism. But what exactly is "plagiarism"? This definition from the University of Oxford sums it up best:

"Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement."

--"Plagiarism." University of Oxford, 2018. 

Most of us know that plagiarism is wrong -- it's akin to taking a yummy dessert that your friend made, and then telling the rest of the dinner party that you made it all by yourself. Your friend would, rightfully, be pretty upset that you took credit for what they made. 

Most of us don't want to deliberately upset our friends, just like most of us don't want to deliberately plagiarize. So why do we still do it? Sometimes it's pressure from peers or time constraints that makes it seem like copying and pasting would be easier than doing the work ourselves. But other times, we genuinely don't know when something crosses the line into plagiarism. These resources will help explain what constitutes plagiarism, so we can proactively avoid it. 

How Can I Avoid Plagiarizing?

You've already completed step 1 of avoiding plagiarism: understanding what it is. What are some other things you can do to avoid plagiarism? 

  • Brush up on your time management and study skills
    • We get it, college is busy. You're juggling classes, work, family, friends, and other obligations. But if you work on your time management skills, you can avoid the pressures of a time-crunch that make it tempting to take the easy way out on an assignment. And by working on your study skills, you'll improve your note taking and organization, which will streamline your research and writing process and ensure that you have all the information you need to accurately cite your sources. 
  • Talk to your professor
    • Your professors want you to succeed! If you're unsure of whether something is plagiarism or in violation of the Code of Academic Integrity, talk to them -- before the due date. 
  • Talk to a librarian
    • Librarians are experts in the ethical use of information -- come to us for help with finding, evaluating, and citing sources. We are a judgment-free zone, so come to us with all of your questions, and we'll be happy to help!
  • Make an appointment with the Writing Center
    • The Writing Center can help you learn how to ethically incorporate sources in your writing, through quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. When you feel more confident in your writing, you'll be empowered to use your own voice.