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Bissell Library: Academic honesty

Academic Honesty

Is It Plagiarism?

When do we give credit?

Deciding if something is "common knowledge"

From the Purdue Online Writing Lab:
Contributors: Karl Stolley, Allen Brizee, Joshua M. Paiz

What is Plagiarism and how to avoid it

Definitions of Plagiarism

a. "Plagiarism is the academic and literary equivalent of robbery, taking somebody else's property. If you copy somebody's test answers, take an essay from a magazine and pass it off as your own, lift a well-phrased sentence or two and include them without 
crediting the author or using quotation marks, or even pass off somebody's good ideas as examples of your own genius, you are guilty of intellectual thievery. If you are caught you should expect punishment or contempt or both."
Quote from Robert M. Gorrell and Charlton Laid, Modern English Handbook, 6th edition (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1976), p. 71.

b. Plagiarism covers unpublished as well as published sources; borrowing another's term paper, handing in as one's own work a paper purchased from an individual or agency, or submitting as one's own papers from living group, club, or organization files; 
all are punishable as plagiarism.

Avoidance of plagiarism: "Acknowledge indebtedness ": 

a. whenever you quote another person's actual words;
b. whenever you see another person's idea, opinion, or theory, even if it is completely paraphrased in your own words; and
c. whenever you borrow facts, statistics, or other illustrative material-unless the information is common knowledge."
William W. Watt, An American Rhetoric, 4th edition (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1970) p. 8.

The form and standard for attribution and acknowledgment of literary indebtedness is set by each discipline. Students should consult with their department or with recognized handbooks in their field if in doubt.

The ethical standards outlined in the above definition of plagiarism and suggestions for its avoidance govern all relationships in academe. Hence, the guidelines apply to faculty and research assistants in their possible use of students' and colleagues' research and ideas, as well as to student use of source materials and authorities and student use of other students' ideas and work.

- From Appendix F: Academic Conduct, Academic Honesty, and Student Grievance Procedures in the Kansas State University Faculty Handbook (FSM 4-11-89, 10-10-89) at



Intellectual challenges for academic writers

There are some intellectual challenges that all students are faced with when writing. Sometimes these challenges can almost seem like contradictions, particularly when addressing them within a single paper. For example, American teachers often instruct students to:

Develop a topic based on
what has already been said and written

Rely on experts' and authorities' opinions

Give credit to previous researchers

Improve your English to fit into a discourse community by building upon what you hear and read





Write something new and original

Improve upon and/or disagree with those same opinions

Make your own significant contribution

Use your own words and your own voice