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Department of History / Undergraduate Program / Statement on Plagiarism & Academic Fraud

Statement on Plagiarism & Academic Fraud

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. A Definition of Academic Fraud
3. General Requirements for the Acknowledgment of Sources
4. Citation Basics
5. Sample Passage from a Secondary Source
6. Word-for-Word Plagiarizing
7. Paraphrasing
8. Partial Paraphrasing
9. Plagiarism of an Idea
10. Guidebooks to the Citation of Sources

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The History Department does not tolerate academic dishonesty of any kind. This includes not only cheating on tests, but also any form of plagiarism: handing in any paper you did not write, attempting to pass off someone else's writing as your own, or using the ideas, information, or phraseology of other writers without giving proper credit in your text. If you are caught committing these types of fraud against yourself, your teachers, and your fellow students, you can expect severe consequences, ranging all the way up to expulsion from school. This is a matter of University policy. All assignments submitted at Florida State University are bound by the Academic Honor Code printed in the back of theStudent Handbook. Under the Honor Code, it is the responsibility of each student to complete all assignments according to the requirements set by the instructor and to submit only work that is his or her own.

Students sometimes argue that their cultural or educational backgrounds should excuse them from following the Academic Honor Code. Indeed, it is true that different cultures handle the ownership of ideas differently. Some cultures operate on the assumption that ideas cannot be owned, and do not confer any special rights to those who first come up with an idea, nor require writers to acknowledge other people's words and ideas when they make use of them. Some countries are only now developing laws to protect the ownership of patents and copyrights, and some foreign universities do not prohibit plagiarism or other forms of academic fraud. Even some students educated in the United States may have been taught a very casual approach to the use of sources before coming to FSU. It is well known, for instance, that some high school teachers do instruct students to "write papers" by copying from encyclopedia articles.

Florida State University upholds a different standard. The Academic Honor Code is based on the idea, common to all respected institutions of higher learning in the western world, that the unique intellectual contributions of the individual writer are most important in judging and evaluating his or her work. Although some students come from countries and cultures that do not recognize individual contributions to knowledge, FSU expects these students (and all other students and faculty) to honor the intellectual work of others while they are members of this academic community. Though the History Department recognizes that all historical writers make some use of the thoughts and words of others, honest historians always acknowledge their intellectual debts and carefully document their use of sources.

Beyond these questions of intellectual morality and justice, academic fraud diminishes the value of a student's education. Stealing the ideas, words, and research of others robs students of the chance to develop the thinking, writing, and researching skills that are the major tangible benefits -- with regard to future employment opportunities -- of humanities education. Moreover, scrupulous citation of sources improves not only the form but also the content of a piece of writing. As Richard Marius of Harvard University has written, "The discrimination between your own thoughts and the thoughts of others helps you see if you are saying something new and interesting. If you pay strict attention to the acknowledgment of your sources, you may discover that you have produced a paper . . . that has failed to bring your own thoughts to the subject."

Clearly, not all academic frauds are committed with the intent to deceive. Beginning students may make honest mistakes. Any student might carelessly copy poorly-taken notes from some source into a paper as his or her own words. Yet ultimately the motives of a student who misuses sources or steals the words of others do not matter as much as the fact that the sources were misused or words stolen. A professional writer caught making such an honest mistake would probably have to find a new profession; a businessperson who honestly tried to sell a product or idea that someone else owned would be sued for millions. It is your responsibility as a student to guard against committing academic fraud, just as it is your responsibility as a driver to operate your vehicle safely and your responsibility as a citizen to obey the laws, even those of which you may be ignorant. Try telling the I.R.S. you didn't know you had to pay taxes!

The information below clearly defines plagiarism and other academic frauds to help you avoid making these kinds of mistakes. Sections II & III provide the definitions and a statement of the minimal requirements for the acknowledgement of sources. The next several sections contain examples of the various ways in which a source can be misused, along with examples of correct references to the same source.

This statement was adapted from a student guide prepared by Rice University, which was in turn based on similar guides used at the University of Virginia and Wesleyan University. Additional content assistance was drawn from a handout distributed by Harvard University's Expository Writing Program and from statements on academic honesty prepared at the University of Florida and Kenyon College.

A DEFINITION OF ACADEMIC FRAUD

There are several types of academic fraud, and they are as follows:

I. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the use of the distinctive idea or words belonging to another person without adequate acknowledgment of that person's contribution. To use as one's own the ideas or words of another is dishonest, since with most academic writing the greater part of the thought and expression is the property of the author himself or herself. Some ideas have such wide currency that all may use them freely; some words - such as proverbs and clich├ęs - are public property. But when the writer borrows what belongs to any other person, whether from a published or an unpublished work, he or she must indicate the source by way of a footnote or an internal reference. Furthermore, he or she must enclose any and all distinctive words or phrases within quotation marks, or in the case of a longer quotation, clearly set off the quoted passage from the rest of the text. Neglect of these indications shall be considered academic fraud.

II. Multiple Submission

Multiple submission is the resubmission of any work by a student that has been used in identical or similar form in fulfillment of any academic requirement at this or another institution. To do so without prior permission from the professor shall be considered academic fraud.

III. False Citation

A false citation is any attribution to, or citation of, a source from which the referenced material was not in fact obtained, including use of a quoted reference from a non-original source while implying reference to the original source. This shall be considered academic fraud.

IV. False Data

False data are data altered or contrived so as to be deliberately misleading. The submission of such data shall be considered academic fraud.

V. Unauthorized Collaboration

Collaboration on projects is always subject to the instructor's definition and approval. Discussions with other students, with the instructor, and with other faculty members can help clarify your ideas. Likewise it is often useful to ask someone else to go over a first version of an assignment and to make suggestions for its improvement. But when you submit academic work (such as examinations, homework assignments, laboratory reports and notebooks, and term papers), this work must be your work and no one else's, unless the assignment was specifically defined as a collaborative group project. Unauthorized collaboration shall be considered academic fraud.

VI. Procedures and Penalties

The university's procedures for dealing with cases of academic fraud are set forth under the heading "Academic Honor System" in the back of the Student Handbook.

Each instructor is responsible for detecting and punishing academic fraud in his or her courses. An instructor who suspects academic fraud will first discuss the questionable assignment with the student; this discussion may clear up the instructor's questions or allow the instructor and student to resolve the matter between themselves. In minor or borderline cases of this kind, the student may simply be required to redo all or part of the assignment. If an informal discussion does not resolve the problem, the instructor will withhold the student's grade for the assignment in question until the matter can be further investigated and more formally resolved in consultation with the department chair and/or appropriate university officials. If necessary, the student will be given a grade of "Incomplete" for the course while this investigation is carried out.

Penalties for academic fraud will involve, at the very least, some combination of the following: a lower or failing grade on the assignment in question; a lower or failing grade in the course; and additional assignments designed to ensure that the student has turned in the same amount of his or her own work as other members of the course. These course-level penalties are at the discretion of the instructor, but any such penalties that are levied must be put in writing, signed by both the instructor and the student, and reported to the department chair, dean, and the University Judicial Officer.

A student who feels the instructor's final decision is unfair may refuse to sign the report and appeal the decision to an Academic Honor System Hearing Panel, as provided in the Student Handbook. Likewise, the University Judicial Officer may decide, in a case of severe or repeated violations of the Academic Honor Code, to conduct his or her own investigation, and proceed with further disciplinary action. Students should be aware that if a case of academic fraud reaches the university level, via appeal to an Academic Honor System Panel or action by the University Judicial Officer, the possible penalties become much more severe. Punishments for violations of the Academic Honor Code range up to suspension or expulsion from the University.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SOURCES

Individual professors will have varying requirements for the acknowledgment of sources, but certain fundamental principles apply to all levels of work. To prevent any misunderstanding, students should study and comply with the following basic requirements:

I. Dual Submissions

Under certain conditions a student may be permitted to rewrite an earlier work or to satisfy two academic requirements by producing a single piece of work, more extensive than that which would satisfy either requirement on its own. In such cases, however, the student must secure prior permission from each instructor involved. If the student has revised an earlier essay, the earlier essay should be submitted with the final version. If a single extended essay has been written for more than one course, the fact must be clearly indicated at the beginning of the essay.

II. Written Work

A. Quotations: Any quotation - however small - must be placed in quotation marks or clearly indented beyond the regular margin and single-spaced in a double-spaced paper. Any quotation must be accompanied (either within the text or in a footnote) by a precise indication of the source - identifying the author, title, place and date of publication, and page numbers. Any sentence or phrase that is not the original work of the student must be acknowledged.

B. Paraphrasing: Any material summarized or paraphrased from a source must be specifically acknowledged in a footnote or in the text, as would a direct quotation. A thorough rewording or rearrangement of an author's text does not relieve one of this responsibility. A writer should be diligent in taking adequate reading notes so that debts of phrasing may be acknowledged where they are due; it is not necessarily a sufficient or valid excuse to claim that the phrases or ideas of a text were unknowingly duplicated simply because of a time lapse between the reading of a source and the writing of a paper.

C. "Mosaic": A mosaic is a special case of paraphrasing without adequate acknowledgments; it is a form of plagiarism. A mosaic is a piecing together of ideas and quotations made in the course of one's research. A mosaic plagiarist may change words, rewrite sentences, add phrases or paragraphs of his own, and take material from many different sources. With proper notation, this work may be creative and original by reason of the sources that are woven together and skill with which they are presented. Nearly all research papers are to some extent mosaic. However, if the sources of these ideas and quotations are not carefully identified by adequate notation, the reader will be misled into thinking that all the information presented is the writer's own. This would be an act of plagiarism.

To avoid this kind of problem, always keep a note of the source of each idea while doing research so that when you write the paper you may footnote each source as you use it. Be sure to inform your reader as to the source of all of the ideas presented, so that your reader can appreciate the distinctive connections that you have provided.

D. Crediting Ideas and Facts: Any ideas or facts borrowed from a particular source should be specifically acknowledged in a footnote or in the text of the paper, even if the idea or fact has been further elaborated by the writer. Some widely known ideas, facts, formulae and other kinds of information are considered "common knowledge" and do not require citation. The criteria for "common knowledge" vary among disciplines; if doubt exists about whether a citation is needed, ask a faculty member. The requirements for citing the sources of ideas and facts apply to unpublished essays and notes, as well as published works. If such unpublished sources are used, the writer must state the fact and indicate clearly the nature and extent of his or her obligation.

III. Oral Reports

Students required to submit written notes for oral reports must clearly acknowledge any work that is not original, in accordance with the requirements for written work, as stated above.

CITATION BASICS

There are generally accepted ways to write out citations and credits of sources. Below are descriptions of these; in writing papers, students may also wish to consult some of the sources listed in Section 10, "Guides to the Citation of Sources." 
I. Footnotes. A footnote number may be placed after any borrowed material, and footnotes should be numbered consecutively throughout a given paper. Each number will key to a note that identifies the author, title, place and date of publication, and page numbers of the source of the borrowed material. Notes may be placed either at the bottom of the page or, preferably, at the end of the paper. When a source is cited for the first time, all the above information should be given in the note. When citing a source for the second and subsequent times, only a shortened reference need be used, unless multiple works by the same author are cited.

II. Internal Reference. Mention of the author, title, or page number of a source in the body of a paper - as opposed to such mention in a footnote - is internal reference. When internal reference to a source is used only once, the indebtedness of the student is slight or casual, not extensive or vitally important, and a footnote is unnecessary. If a work is to be quoted or referred to frequently, however, the first mention of the source should be footnoted. The reader should then be told in the footnote that subsequent references are to a particular edition of the source. These references would be page numbers placed in parentheses as needed throughout the paper. 

III. Bibliography. All the sources consulted in the preparation of an essay or report should be listed in a bibliography, unless specific guidelines (from the academic department or instructor) request that only works cited be so included. However, the listing of a source in a bibliography is not considered a proper acknowledgment for a specific use of that source within the essay or report. Failing to acknowledge a source from which ideas have been taken is a serious misrepresentation, as is adding sources to a bibliography that were not used.

SAMPLE PASSAGE FROM SECONDARY SOURCE

Repair of the public sector was Kennedy's other variation on the theme of getting the country moving again. This had originally been Galbraith's issue, but Kennedy studiously avoided giving him credit, since a substantial number of citizens considered the economist a crackpot. But Kennedy left no doubt that he too was disturbed by Republican neglect of community well-being. Kennedy promised to clear the slums, wipe out poverty, bring prosperity to depressed areas, provide a decent education to every school child, restore dignity to the aged, and remove the hardships attendant on automation. A large gap separated these goals from Kennedy's specific proposals, which turned out to be merely the piecemeal reforms advanced by the Democrats unsuccessfully in recent Congresses. They included more urban renewal, federal loans to businessmen locating in depressed areas, and higher minimum wages. Mere extensions of the welfare state perhaps, but sufficient to permit the candidate to run in the tradition of Wilson, Roosevelt, and Truman. Most liberals asked no more.1 
Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America, (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), pp. 19-20.

WORD-FOR-WORD PLAGIARIZING

Incorrect Reference

Repair of the public sector was Kennedy's other route to getting the country moving again. Originally Galbraith's issue, Kennedy studiously avoided giving him credit, as many considered the economist a nut-case. But Kennedy left no doubt that he too was disturbed by Republican neglect of community well-being. Kennedy promised to improve the slums, eliminate poverty, bring prosperity to depressed areas, provide a decent education to every school child, restore dignity to the old, and remove hardships attendant on automation. 
Comment: This is the most obvious form of plagiarism - an outright theft. No credit is given to Matusow for the nearly exact replication of his work. Notice how the student has changed "crackpot" to "nut-case" and "variation" to "route" in an awkward attempt to camouflage the copying.

Correct Reference

If the writer had enclosed all the copied text in quotation marks and had identified the source in a footnote, the student would not have been liable to the charge of plagiarism; a reader might justifiably have felt, however, that the writer's personal contribution to the discussion was not very significant.

To conform to the style guidelines of the Modern Language Association, set off (in an indented single-spaced block of text) quotations longer than four lines. If your professor assigns the Chicago Manual of Style, set off quotations that run eight or ten typed lines. Other professional associations' guidelines may have different standards.

Reproductions of shorter length should be enclosed in quotation marks. Both types of citation require a footnote.

Instead of footnotes, many academic societies recommend a system of references enclosed in parentheses linked to a list of works (cited or consulted) printed at the end of the paper. Your best defense is to follow carefully whichever style guide your professor has advised the class to follow. If the professor has not recommended a style guide, ask the professor which one you should use.

PARAPHRASING

Incorrect Reference

Eager to follow in the footsteps of his liberal forefathers, Kennedy responded quickly to the call for action. Hoping to revitalize the country through improvement in the public sector, Kennedy began to consult his Keynesians for advice. It was not difficult to convince him that past Republican administrations' focus on solvency had hurt the community health.

Comment: While this student has done a good job rewording Matusow's original work, he or she has still failed to adequately acknowledge the original source. Although the student has provided the words (see italicized sections), it was Matusow who provided the ideas. The omission of any citation, footnote, or internal reference constitutes a false claim by the writer that these ideas are his or her own.

Correct Reference

A correctly referenced paraphrase requires two indicators; one to tell where the paraphrasing begins, followed by another to show where the paraphrasing ends.

As Allen Matusow has noted, Kennedy's eagerness to follow in the footsteps of his liberal forefathers led him to respond quickly to the call for action. Hoping to revitalize the country through improvement in the public sector, Kennedy began to consult his Keynesians for advice. In Kennedy's eyes, it was the past Republican administration's focus on solvency that had hurt the community health.2 
Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America, (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), pp. 19-20.

"As Allen Matusow has noted" serves as the initial indicator with the traditional footnote marking the end of the paraphrased material.

PARTIAL PARAPHRASING

Incorrect Reference

As Allen Matusow has noted, Kennedy's plan for revitalization was an ambitious one that followed in the footsteps of his liberal forefathers. By clearing the slums, eliminating poverty, bringing prosperity to depressed areas, and removing the hardships accompanying automation, Kennedy hoped to get Americans moving again.

Comment: Though the student does make an internal reference to Allen Matusow, this passage still represents serious plagiarism. Notice how the student has pieced together the themes of several different thoughts from the original. No footnote accompanies this patchwork. Furthermore, in several places, the student has done an inadequate job of paraphrasing. In fact, the last sentence is so similar to the original that it should be reworked, enclosed in quotation marks, and accompanied by a footnote. In the example below, the student has improved upon the reference in several ways.

Correct Reference

As Allen Matusow has noted, Kennedy's plan for revitalization was an ambitious one that followed in the footsteps of his liberal forefathers. By "[clearing] the slums, [wiping] out poverty, [bringing] prosperity to depressed areas, . . . and [removing] the hardships attendant on automation," Kennedy hoped to get Americans moving again.3 
Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America, (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), pp. 19-20.

This student has used a footnote at the end of the entire section as a way to point out the specific location of the original ideas. Second, the writer correctly documents the partially paraphrased quotation. The sentence is correctly placed in quotation marks, as it is primarily Matusow's writing. Next, the student has correctly bracketed the change in tense of the original verbs and has inserted . . . to signal text that has been lifted out. Finally, the correct footnote has been placed at the end of the quoted sentence.

PLAGIARISM OF AN IDEA

Incorrect Reference

In my opinion, Kennedy hoped to revitalize the country by revitalizing the public sector. Conservative fiscal restraint had left much of the public sector in shambles. To combat the damage of the past, Kennedy sought programs that would improve such interconnected areas as housing, education, health care, and employment.

Comment: Since the student paraphrases, the plagiarism appears less obvious than in the examples. Nonetheless, though the words are the student's, the ideas are Matusow's. In fact, the paragraph follows an almost identical pattern of presentation of ideas as does Matusow's original work. The student's sentences paraphrase Matusow's first, third, and fourth sentences. Because the student has begun the paragraph with "in my opinion," and thereby led the reader to believe the ideas are his or her own, the student's dishonesty is more evident; since the ideas belong to Matusow, a footnote or internal reference should be appropriately placed to credit the source.

Correct Reference

I agree with Matusow's argument that Kennedy hoped to revitalize the country by revitalizing the public sector. Conservative fiscal restraint had left much of the public sector in shambles. To combat the damage of the past, Kennedy sought programs that would improve such interconnected areas as housing, education, health care, and employment.4 
Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America, (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), pp. 19-20.

The internal reference to Matusow and the footnote at the end of the paragraph give correct attribution to Matusow and his work for the ideas, but not to the words in the paragraph.

GUIDEBOOKS TO THE CITATION OF SOURCES

For standard forms of quotations, footnotes, and bibliographies, the student should consult one of the following. Your instructor may designate one of these guides to follow, but all are acceptable as long as your citations are consistent.

Achtert, Walter S., and Joseph Gibaldi. The MLA Style Manual. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1985.

Campbell, William Giles, Stephen Vaughan Ballou, and Carole Slade. Form and Style: Theses, Reports, Term Papers. 7th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 14th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Hacker, Diana L. A Writer's Reference. 2nd ed. New York: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press: New York, 1992. Pages 243-262 contain information on Modern Language Association (MLA) style, American Psychological Association (APA) style, and a list of style manuals for various fields.

Huckin, Thomas N., and Leslie A. Olsen. Technical Writing and Professional Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English. International Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991. Pages 662-665 cover scientific documentation style. Other parts of this book explain many other features of English phrasing and document structure useful to nonnative speakers who are preparing term papers and articles in English.

Marius, Richard. A Short Guide to Writing About History. 2d ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, And Dissertations. Most recent edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2. If there is any question as to the footnote requirements of a particular assignment, the student should consult their instructor as early as possible.

3. The instructor, another faculty member or the chairman of the department may also be helpful in defining the "common knowledge" of a particular field.