The MLS Student Handbook

Special Section on Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the use of another person’s material without proper attribution. If you plagiarize, it is grounds for dismissal from the MLS program. If you are in a situation where you are not sure whether you are plagiarizing, contact your instructor. Three examples should help you understand what constitutes plagiarism.

EXAMPLE ONE: You found some material while you were researching a paper. You decide to paraphrase or summarize the material in your paper. When you do, you fail to provide a citation. This would constitute plagiarism, though a more mild form of plagiarism than found in the next example.

EXAMPLE TWO: You found some material while you were researching a paper. You decide to include a quote from that material in your paper. When you do, you fail to provide quote marks and a citation. This would constitute a more serious form of plagiarism. The longer the quote, the more serious the violation. Here is a conservative rule that you can use to determine whether you are plagiarizing a quote: if you use three or more words in the same order as the author(s) from whom you have acquired the material, then you must cite the source. If you cut and paste words from a source on the Web, that is as serious an error as copying words from a book or article.

EXAMPLE THREE: Someone else writes a paper and you submit it as your own. This is the most serious form of plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. It is a claim that the ideas or words you have written are yours, when in fact they are not. A second form of academic dishonesty is to intentionally provide an incorrect citation. Other examples of academic dishonesty include handing in a paper purchased from an individual or agency; submitting papers from living group, club or organization files; and using another’s computer program or documents. FHSU’s policy on academic honesty can be found at the University Catalog.

More positively, proper attribution helps you locate your own analysis and thinking within the context of what has already been written on the topic. Proper attribution shows the reader that you are familiar with the literature relevant to your topic, thereby helping the reader to more accurately judge your own contribution to the topic. Proper attribution is a way to honor all three parties involved in the paper: the sources, the readers, and you. Standards of attribution and acknowledgment of literary indebtedness are set by each discipline.

See also the MLS Writing and Style Guide by Dr. Chris Crawford.

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