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Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial: Scenarios

A tutorial to help you learn about and avoid plagiarism in your academic work.

About These Scenarios

These scenarios are common situations for college students. As you read through them, remember that in addition to plagiarism there are other forms of academic dishonesty.

The scenarios and video on this page should take approximately 5 minutes to read and watch.

Sloppy Citations

You have to write a five-page essay on a topic assigned by the instructor. You use a lot of material from the Internet in your essay and don't have time to cite it properly. In fact, you don't really remember where you found a lot of the information. You didn't note the sources when you were researching. The professor didn't say anything about citation. Are you guilty of plagiarism?

 

Response:

Yes. You are responsible for correctly citing all ideas, phrases and passages taken from other authors wherever they occur in your work, even in drafts of your papers. Failure to do so is plagiarism, a violation of the Plagiarism Policy.

Proofreading Perils

You ask a friend, who is a good writer, to look over your paper. She is happy to help and finds many awkward phrases and unclear assertions, which she re-writes for you. She even develops a few new arguments to help support your thesis. You are happy because she was able to express clearly and persuasively what you had been trying to say all along. You hand in your paper with the changes she made. Are you demonstrating academic honesty?

 

Response:

No. It is a good idea to have others proofread your work for mistakes in spelling, punctuation, syntax and style. But you are being dishonest for claiming authorship of any content added by your friend.

Your instructor would have every right to report your actions under Okanagan College's Academic Offences policy, if he or she suspects that you have included another person's writing in your paper without citing it.

Collaboration vs. Copying

Your instructor allows collaboration on homework assignments and encourages study groups but still expects you to do your own work. You and two friends discuss the problem and work it through together. Portions of your final work are identical, but you assume this should be okay, since most of the work is your own. Are you correct to assume this?

 

Response:

No. In classes where collaboration on graded assignments is allowed, you can share ideas and discussion but must still do your own work. Always make sure you understand the extent of collaboration your instructor allows. If you are not sure, ask your instructor for clarification. Most instructors do not allow students to turn in identical work or assignments that contain identical work.

Language Barriers

You are an international student. You need to write a project proposal for one of your courses and you are having difficulty composing the assignment in English. You decide to write it in a language you are more comfortable with and then use an automatic translation program on the Internet to help you out. Your instructor said dictionaries are allowed and you think this is the same kind of thing. Is using an online translation program academically honest?

 

Response:

No. Using automatic translation programs is the same thing as getting a friend to do your work for you. It is dishonest and is considered plagiarism.

Don't steal your friends' stories!

Check out the scenario in this video, which discusses the importance of acknowledging other people's ideas. Be sure to go on to the Cite Your Sources tab to see why, when and how to cite.

References

All scenarios adapted from the University of Rochester, Board of Academic Honesty online material.

Retrieved from: http://www.rochester.edu/college/honesty/quiz2.html

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