Students are expected-often required-to build their work on that of other people, just as professional researchers and writers do. Giving credit to someone whose work has helped you is expected; in fact, not to give such credit is a crime. Plagiarism is the severest form of academic fraud. Plagiarism is theft. More specifically, plagiarism is presenting as your own:
- a phrase, sentence, or passage from another writer's work without using quotation marks;
- a paraphrased passage from another writer's work;
- facts, ideas, or written text gathered or downloaded from the Internet;
- another student's work with your name on it; a purchased paper or "research" from a term paper mill.
Other forms of academic fraud include:
- "collaborating" between two or more students who then submit the same paper under their individual names;
- submitting the same paper for two or more courses without the knowledge and the expressed permission of all teachers involved;
- giving permission to another student to use your work for a class.
Term paper mills (web sites and businesses set up to sell papers to students) often claim they are merely offering "information" or "research" to students and that this service is acceptable and allowed throughout the university. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. If you buy and submit "research," drafts, summaries, abstracts, or final versions of a paper, you are committing plagiarism and are subject to stringent disciplinary action. Since plagiarism is a matter of fact and not intention, it is crucial that you acknowledge every source accurately and completely. If you quote anything from a source, use quotation marks and take down the page number of the quotation to use in your footnote.
Consult The Modern Language Association (MLA) Style Guide for accepted forms of documentation, including information on using electronic sources. When in doubt about whether your acknowledgment is proper and adequate, consult your teacher. Show the teacher your sources and a draft of the paper in which you are using them. The obligation to demonstrate that work is your own rests with you, the student. You are responsible for providing sources, copies of your work, or verification of the date work was completed.
The academic community takes plagiarism very seriously. Teachers in our writing courses must report to the Director of the Expository Writing Program any instance of academic dishonesty in student writing, whether it occurs in an exercise, draft, or final essay. Students will be asked to explain the circumstances of work called into question. When plagiarism is confirmed, whether accidental or deliberate, students must be reported to the Dean of their School, and penalties will follow. This can result in failure of the essay, failure in the course, a hearing with the Dean, and/or expulsion from the university. This has happened to students at New York University.
For more information on avoiding plagiarism and proper use of internet citation, we recommend visiting these websites:
- Academic Integrity. New York University, College of Arts & Science. Virtual Salt.
- Citing Web Sources MLA Style by Robert Harris. Guidelines to what to cite and how to cite in Modern Language Association style.
- How to Avoid Plagiarism. Northwestern University. A comprehensive site about academic integrity and citing sources.