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600 Park Street
Hays, KS 67601
Phone: 785-628-4291
Toll Free: 800-628-FHSU
Fax: 785-628-4037
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In college, students are expected to write, write, and write some more!  Instructors differ in exactly what they expect in a paper, but one rule holds true across the board:  Never plagiarize!  At first glance, this appears to be a straightforward rule; however, students are often confused on exactly what qualifies as plagiarism.  Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work as one's own.  Instructors expect students to develop original ideas while incorporating work that has already been completed by other researchers and authors.  This is where students often stumble, and place themselves in danger of plagiarism.


FHSU addresses plagiarism in the Academic Honesty policy.  Students who are found in violation of this policy are subject to consequences such as verbal and/or written warnings, lowering of assignment and/or course grade, or, in extreme cases, suspension from the University.  When students are accused of plagiarism, they are given the right to appeal in the following manner:  1.) informally with the instructor;  2.) formally with the department; and 3.) formally with the Provost.[1]


On top of academic consequences, there are also legal ramifications when individuals are accused of plagiarism.  In the United States, there are laws protecting the authors of copyrighted materials.  Some instances of plagiarism constitute copyright infringement.  According to, cases of plagiarism that reach a court of law are typically misdemeanors with the possibility of fines or jail time.[2]


To avoid being placed in this uncomfortable position, students have an obligation to learn the skills necessary to avoid plagiarism.  First and foremost, students must understand how to cite properly using formatting styles such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.  An improper citation, or lack thereof, could easily lead to an accusation of plagiarism.  Put quotations around any sentence that is word-for-word from a source.[3]  An excellent resource for learning and using the different styles is the Purdue Online Writing Lab.


Secondly, students should understand how to paraphrase correctly. Paraphrasing is summarizing or rephrasing an idea initially written by someone else.  Students should change not only the words, but also the sentence structure to avoid plagiarism.  Once paraphrased, the content of the writing should still match the source, but will be expressed in your own words.  Paraphrased information should not be used to just reiterate someone else’s ideas, but to support your own ideas in the paper.  Remember that paraphrasing still requires a citation![4]


Once you have mastered these skills, academic writing will come more naturally.  If you are ever in doubt, make sure to use a citation.  Your instructors are an excellent resource for questions about writing format and style.  For more information on plagiarism, please see the resources below:


      FHSU Academic Honesty Policy

      Purdue Online Writing Lab

      Harvard Guide to Using Sources

      Copyright Infringement (Wikipedia)


Happy Writing!


Erica Fisher






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