Avoid Plagiarism

As a student your number one task is to learn new things but just like your professors, you are a member of the university who contributes knowledge and ideas. Academics (like you) build knowledge through rigorous research and expand on the ideas of others. As a university student, you are expected to submit original work and give credit to other people's ideas. In short, academic integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. As an academic (yes, even in first year) you are expected to contribute to this research and knowledge building by sharing your own ideas, evaluations and arguments. Your professor isn't looking for you to write the "perfect" paper; they are looking for you to do some original thought. This includes:

  • Creating and expressing your own ideas in course work
  • Acknowledging all sources of information
  • Completing assignments independently or acknowledging collaboration
  • Accurately reporting results when conducting your own research or with respect to labs
  • Honesty during examinations

How does it impact me?

Academic integrity is the foundation of university success. Both students and faculty are engaged in producing new knowledge and this activity proceeds by building on the work of previous scholars; this can’t take place without responsible citing and researching. Learning how to express original ideas, cite sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that carry you beyond university to serve you in the workforce. Academic dishonesty not only cheats you of valuable learning experiences, but can result in a failing grade on assignments, a mark on your transcripts, or even expulsion from the university. For 'real life' examples of this, check out the Annual Report on Student Discipline!

How does plagiarism play a role?

Plagiarism may be:

Accidental or Unintentional
You may not even know that you're plagiarizing. Make sure you understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the way to cite material.
This time you're well aware of what you're doing. Purposefully using someone else's ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism. This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as your own.
It's your own work so you should be able to do what you want with it, right? Wrong. Handing in the same term paper (or substantially the same term paper) for two courses without getting permission from your instructor is plagiarism.

Do professors really check for plagiarism?

YES! Instructors often keep copies of previous assignments for reference. In addition, UBC subscribes to TurnItIn.com, an online service that scans essay and term papers to check for material copied from web sites or purchased from essay mills, published works, or previously submitted essays.

Understand your responsibilities

1. Get started early to avoid panic situations which might tempt you to plagiarize. Try the Assignment Calculator to help you manage your research and writing time.

2. Take careful notes on what you read and where you found the ideas. Use Refworks to keep track of your sources as you go along.

3. Acknowledge ALL Sources from which you use ideas. This includes books, journal articles, websites, e-mail communication, listserv, film, videos, audio recordings, etc.

4. Always cite:

  • Direct quotations taken from sources - place quotation marks “” around direct quotes as you write them down, to remember which are direct quotes and which are not
  • Paraphrased ideas and opinions taken from someone else's work.
  • Summaries of ideas taken from someone else's work
  • Factual information, including statistics or other data – with the exception of anything that is considered common knowledge (i.e. well known facts like "British Columbia is a province in Canada").
  • Different disciplines use different style guides, so check with your instructor to make sure you are using the right one. Some of the most common style guides are MLA , APA and Turabian/Chicago

5. When reviewing your paper, ask yourself :

  • Is the idea or argument presented mine?
  • Are the words my own?
  • Can my work be clearly distinguished from the work of others?

UBC Resources

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