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Beware! Says Who?
Avoiding Plagiarism

Read the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty
Fall/Winter, 2007–08

Acknowledgements


Academic Integrity and Intellectual Property

Having Academic integrity means that you have adopted appropriate principles or standards that consistently govern how you pursue your school work. A student with academic integrity earns a degree with honest effort, and knows that this degree is a true accomplishment reflecting years of hard work and genuine learning. Furthermore, practicing academic integrity means that you will develop essential lifelong skills that include conducting research responsibly, writing clearly and documenting appropriately.

Intellectual property rights must be respected by properly acknowledging the original author’s ownership of any words, phrases and ideas that are used in academic work. Plagiarism, which breaches academic integrity and intellectual property rights, is not acceptable.


Plagiarism

Plagiarism: representing someone else's ideas, writing or other intellectual property as your own.

Plagiarism Comes in Many Forms

  • Using someone else's written idea, theory or opinion
  • Music, drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic or technical work created by someone else
  • Reproductions of tables, graphs or any other graphic element produced by someone else
  • Facts and information that are not generally known
  • An unusual or distinctive phrase, a specialized term, a computer code, quantitative data
  • An unattributed paraphrase or summary of someone else's spoken or written words
  • Contributions of ideas by others with whom you have collaborated
  • “Cutting and pasting” from the Internet (“mashups”, etc.)

The Impact of Plagiarism

The offence of plagiarism has an impact on your academic experience in many ways:

  • It hinders your learning of the materials you are studying in the course
  • It also hinders the development of academic skills you need to succeed in the work world
  • It is theft of intellectual property – stealing someone else's words, ideas or creations without their permission and lying about it by claiming it as your own

Within the academic community plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are seen as very serious offences, as illustrated by the following statement:

It would be impossible to think of any greater insult to the integrity of an academic institution or to an academic community than that of dishonesty whether it is called intellectual dishonesty or fraud. One can therefore sympathize with the desire to uncover it and treat it with the condemnation it deserves when it is thought to exist.

Krever, J. in Hajee v. York University, 11 OAC 72, 1985

Pressures Leading a Student to Plagiarize: How to Resist

There are many pressures that might cause a student to plagiarize – the pressure of not enough time to do the work thoroughly; thinking someone else’s words are better than your own (possibly true, but remember that one of the skills you want to develop is the ability to think critically and write effectively); finding a shortcut, etc. However, it is wise for all students to consider the consequences – students who cheat get caught and face serious sanctions.

Sanctions for any violation of academic honesty can range from a written disciplinary warning to expulsion from the university, depending on the extent and nature of the offence. A second offence always results in a severe sanction.

  • Beware of using non-York University writing services advertised on campus – you may be violating the Senate Academic Honesty Policy by using these services.
  • Be especially careful when using the Internet as a resource and make sure to properly cite all Internet sources you use in your academic work.
  • As a student, it is your responsibility to know and understand the University’s policies on academic honesty. The rules apply whether an offence was intentional or not.

Resist plagiarizing by planning – give yourself time to complete assignments; create a work schedule instead of procrastinating – the work often can be done easily just by starting! Don’t listen to friends who want you to help them (to cheat); don’t look for shortcuts. There are many resources at York to help you manage your time and develop your research skills, including many writing centres and the Learning Skills Program within the Counselling and Disability Centre. Some of these sources are available online (see the references below) or ask your professor for help.


Good Practices to Help Prevent Plagiarism

What Should I Look For?

Look for these clues to tell you if a writing sample displays academic integrity or not.

Good!

  • Use of a direct quotation to indicate that the words quoted were taken from another source – in most disciplines these are used sparingly.
  • Use of a paraphrase that is clearly acknowledged. A paraphrase uses your own words and sentence structure to explain someone else's idea or information obtained from another source. Paraphrasing should be used sparingly.
  • Use of citations within the text to accompany each and every use of another source, whether directly quoted or paraphrased, including sources from the Internet. Every citation matches a full reference in the Bibliography or Works Cited page included with your paper, allowing your readers to find the original source.

Bad!

  • Copying (quoting in whole or in part without citing a reference). Anything that includes many of the words or phrases in a passage can be considered copying, even if some of the original words are omitted or changed.
  • Paraphrasing without acknowledgement. Failing to acknowledge a paraphrase implies that the writing represents your own original idea.
  • Using an idea without acknowledgement. Be careful of situations where you use another person's idea without directly quoting or paraphrasing a specific passage of their writing. It is still necessary to acknowledge that idea.
  • Making up references to non-existent articles this is a violation of academic integrity for which you may be charged and, if found guilty, heavily penalized.

Sources that Do Not Have to be Referenced

  • Your own ideas do not have to be referenced. Anything that you conclude from your research or that you think up on your own counts as your own idea.
    • The exception to this is work that you have previously submitted in any course or in the past. This must be referenced like any other source.
  • If your idea is similar to another author’s, make it clear in your writing that you thought of this idea on your own, but you later discovered it in another source (example: “Similar conclusions are found in…”)
  • Common knowledge does not have to be referenced. If the information meets the following criteria, it can usually be considered common knowledge:
    • It appears in several sources without reference.
    • It is not controversial. This means the information is generally considered as fact.
  • If it is part of your thesis or main arguments, or it is the basis of your research, it must be referenced. If you have any doubts as to whether the information constitutes common knowledge, cite the source or consult your professor.

Two Basic Rules

  1. If you directly use someone else’s words, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference.
  2. If you borrow someone else’s ideas, data, etc., give a complete reference.

Examples

Should you want to use this source:

Most of the literature did not mention the existence of female members in the fathers’ rights movement. It was a non-custodial father and his second wife who started Fathers For Justice. Women were always an important part of FFJ, which included second spouses, grandmothers, and other female supporters. Even though the name FFJ only indicates fathers, FFJ was a post-separation/divorce parenting organization. This important detail is rarely highlighted in much of the literature reviewed.

Source: Kenedy, Robert A. (2006) “Researching the Intersection between Collective Identity and Conceptions of Post-separation and Divorced Fatherhood: Fathers For Justice, Fathers For Just Us, or Fathers are Us?” Qualitative Sociology Review, Vol. II. Issue 2, Pp. 75–97. http://www.qualitativesociologyreview.org/ENG/Volume4/QSR_2_2_Kenedy.pdf)

What is Unacceptable?

In the following table, the words in bold are used in the source text given above.

Unacceptable uses of a source
You wrote: This is unacceptable because:
Research has shown that most of the literature did not mention the existence of female members in the fathers’ rights movement. It was a non-custodial father and his second wife who started Fathers For Justice. Women were always an important part of FFJ, which included second spouses, grandmothers, and other female supporters. Even though the name FFJ only indicates fathers, FFJ was a post-separation/divorce parenting organization. This important detail is rarely highlighted in much of the literature reviewed.
  • Other than the first four words, the text has been copied word for word from the original document without quotation marks that would indicate that the passage is a quote.
  • The source is not cited.
An in-depth analysis of the literature has shown that most of the literature did not mention the existence of female members in the fathers’ rights movement. It was a non-custodial father and his second wife who started Fathers For Justice. Women were always an important part of FFJ, which included second spouses, grandmothers, and other female supporters. Even though the name FFJ only indicates fathers, FFJ was a post-separation/divorce parenting organization. (Kenedy, 2006)
  • Although the source is cited, the author’s words should be in quotation marks as they are not paraphrased, but directly copied.
Research indicated that a substantial amount of the fathers’ rights literature did not mention female members. However it was a non-custodial father and his second wife who started Fathers For Justice. The importance of women as a part of FFJ should be noted, women such as second spouses, grandmothers and other female supporters have all been a part of FFJ. The name FFJ implies that only fathers are members; however FFJ was an organization for any post-separation/divorce parent.
  • Though most of the words have been changed, the sentence structure has remained the same.
  • This is paraphrasing without indicating the original source.

 

What is Acceptable?

In the following table, the words in bold are used in the source text given above.

Acceptable uses of a source
You wrote: This is acceptable because:
In this article on collective identity of fathers’ rights groups, Kenedy (2006: 90) argues that while “…most of the literature did not mention the existence of female members in the fathers’ rights movement. It was a non-custodial father and his second wife who started Fathers For Justice. Women were always an important part of FFJ, which included second spouses, grandmothers, and other female supporters. Even though the name FFJ only indicates fathers, FFJ was a post-separation/divorce parenting organization”.
  • The author has been acknowledged, and the quoting technique that has been used is adequate.
According to Kenedy (2006: 90), “most of the literature did not mention the existence of female members in the fathers’ rights movement…Women were always an important part of FFJ, which included second spouses, grandmothers, and other female supporters.” He notes that it was a non-custodial father and his new wife that started FFJ.
  • This has been properly quoted and paraphrased.
According to Kenedy (2006), a substantial amount of the fathers’ rights literature did not mention female members. However it was a non-custodial fathers and his second wife who started Fathers For Justice. The importance of women as a part of FFJ should be noted, women such as second spouses, grandmothers and other female supporters have all been a part of FFJ.
  • This is the proper way to paraphrase and the author’s ideas have been credited.

If you still have any questions about Academic Integrity, please visit the Online Tutorial on Academic Integrity.


Referencing Styles

The style of referencing used will depend on your department or field of study. If you are unsure, please consult the course professor, teaching assistant, or visit the York University Libraries Website for more information.

Other resources:


Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the idea for this pamphlet comes from academic integrity pamphlets produced by the University of Ottawa; we thank them for their permission to use some of the information from their AI documents in this pamphlet. The University of Ottawa pamphlets used include:

  • “Says Who”? Integrity in Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism. University of Ottawa, 2006
  • Beware of Plagiarism*! University of Ottawa, 2006