Plagiarism and Student Writing


Plagiarism occurs whenever someone uses the ideas or writings of another as their own without giving due credit. According to the Committee on Academic Conduct (1994, p. 23), a student commits plagiarism by:


1.      Using another writer's words without proper citation.

If you use another writer's words, you must place quotation marks around the quoted material and include a footnote or other indication of the source of the quotation.

2.      Using another writer's ideas without proper citation.

When you use another author's ideas, you must use a citation to indicate where this information can be found. Your instructors want to know which ideas and judgments are yours and which you arrived at by consulting other sources. Even if you arrived at the same judgment on your own, you need to acknowledge that the writer you consulted also came up the with idea....

3.      Citing your source but reproducing the exact words of a printed source without quotation marks.

This makes it appear that you have paraphrased rather than borrowed the author's exact words.

4.      Borrowing the structure of another author's phrases or sentences without crediting the author from whom it came.

This kind of plagiarism usually occurs out of laziness: it is easier to replicate another writer's style than to think about what you have read and then put it in your own words. For example (Hacker, 1989, p. 171):

Original: If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists.

Unacceptable borrowing of words: An ape who knew sign language unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists.

Unacceptable borrowing of sentence structure: If the presence of a sign-language-using chimp was disturbing for scientists studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior.

Acceptable paraphrasing: When they learned of an ape's ability to use sign language, both linguists and animal behaviorists were taken by surprise.

5.      Borrowing all or part of another student's paper or using someone else's outline to write your own paper.

6.      Using a paper writing "service" or having a friend write the paper for you.

Regardless of whether you pay a stranger or have a friend do it, it is a breach of academic honesty to hand in work that is not your own or to use parts of another student's paper.


What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism at the University of Washington?


The procedures of the College of Arts and Sciences for handling cases of plagiarism are the following: "an instructor need not give credit for work which is the product of cheating, plagiarism, or other academic misconduct. However, the lowering of a course grade is not appropriate as a disciplinary sanction." In other words, you can receive a failing grade for writing a plagiarized paper. Or, you may receive an incomplete until the case is brought before the College Disciplinary Committee. The result in most cases is academic probation for the student involved. For more information, see the Statement of Academic Responsibility in the UW Bachelor's Degree Handbook.


How Do You Avoid Plagiarism?





When Do You Use Quotation Marks?


When Do You Use Footnotes or Citations?




Committee on Academic Conduct. (1994). Bachelor's Degree Handbook, University of Washington.


Hacker, D. A. (1989). A Writer's Reference. New York: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press.