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Definiting Plagiarism (Student)

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 3 months ago


Student Resources > Understanding Plagiarism > Defining Plagiarism





This resource page is divided into two parts:
1) Overview of topic.
2) Select list of annotated resources for more in-depth coverage of this topic.

If you know of additional material to include, please feel free to add or edit.  Keep in mind that we are more interested in providing annotated links to the best resources on a topic rather than a long list of resources of various quality and coverage.  All links should lead to freely accessible resource material unless otherwise indicated.

Understanding Plagiarism


GW is an academic community that respects the work and ideas of others.  In the academic world, words and ideas are protected by rules and regulations that an institution adopts.  At GW, these rules are presented in the GW Code of Academic Integrity  which defines plagiarism as:


Intentionally representing the words, ideas, or sequence of ideas of another as one's own in any academic exercise; failure to attribute any of the following: quotations, paraphrases, or borrowed information.


Though the definition does not provide a laundry list of modes of communication such as audio, video, images, etc.,  the use of the word “ideas” functions as an umbrella term for today's multi-modal communication platforms.


Plagiarism is not a law--more of an academic construction of appropriate professional behavior; however, the ideas adopted in academia about plagiarism derive from the constitutial statute of copyright.  Moreover, the concepts that formulate plagiarism and copyright law itself come out of Western cultural concepts of intellectual property.  Consequently, students from outside the United States often do not understand the American concept of plagiarism as their country does not have a system of intellectual property rights.  For more on these types of cultural issues concerning plagiarism, see Cultural Issues and Plagiarism



Types of Plagiarism:  Intentional and Accidental Plagiarism


Plagiarism is can be divided into two types: intentional and accidental.   


Intentional plagiarism is when a person knowingly and willfully presents someone else’s work as his/her own whether by buying a paper at an online paper mill or cutting and pasting content directly into a paper wihtout proper attribution. Intentional plagiarism is often detected when an instructor notices an inconsistency in the writing such as a change in style, content, or vocabulary.  Other times an instructor might suspect plagiarism because something about the content seems familiar to the instructor producing a feeling of “I’ve read that before.”


Accidental plagiarism, on the other hand, is when a person does not understand how to properly quote, paraphrase, summarize, or cite the work of others being used in one's paper resulting in the content being unintentionally attributed to the compiler and not the original author.



Resources on Understanding Plagiarism


This tutorial is divided into four sections.  The first section, appropriately named "First Things First..." defines plagiarism and examines the consequences.  The second section looks at how to avoid plagiarism through taking careful notes and properly quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing. The third second explores the importance of giving credit through bibliographic and in-text citations and ends with a 9 question yes/no quiz titled "Is it Plagiarism?"   After answering each question, a pop-up appears that explains if the answer is correct or incorrect.  The last section focuses on copyright and also ends with a yes/no quiz  that follows the same format of providing pop-up responses.  The quiz is  titled "Is it Copyright Infringment?"






 Resources on Copyright


This is the web site of the U.S. Copyright Office. The site has an excellent Copyright Basics  section that defines copyright, describes what it covers, explains who can apply, and even discusses international concerns.


The site describes itself as offering “general copyright information for educators, students, websurfers and confused citizens.”  Divided into five sections, the site addresses the major domains of copyright.  The Info section gives an overview of copyright issues including fair use and public domain, as well as giving an overall  history of copyright law.  For teaching purposes, the site includes PowerPoint presentations on copyright issues. The Movies section looks at the scope of copyright in the visual domain of movies, television shows, photographs and artwork.  The Music section focuses on the audio domain and deals with all aspects of music composition and delivery.  The Web section examines copyright in the digital domain concerning software and the web.  The final section is an online wizard that aids in copyright registration.


These three tutorials are a series of non-interactive web pages that ask and answer questions about copyright ownership, copyright use, and plagiarism.  If one is interested in discussing the differences and relationship between copyright and plagiarism, these tutorials offer a general overview.



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