2019 FST Graduate Students Orientation

Plagiarism Issues in Academic Work

Richard Huntrods

Athabasca University, Canada


Fancy 'Lectrics



  • What is Plagiarism?
  • What are the consequences of plagiarism?
  • How can you avoid plagiarism?
  • Wikipedia and Internet Sources

What is Plagiarism? (definition)

  • According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to "plagiarize" means:
    • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
    • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
    • to commit literary theft
    • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
  • In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.
  • Simply put, plagiarism is including something in an academic paper that you did not write or that you have not properly referenced.

What is Plagiarism? (practical)

  • "Not attributing quotes in your essays" IS PLAGIARISM
  • Taking paragraphs from wikipedia and pretending you wrote them IS PLAGIARISM
  • Making a "mashup" essay with quotes from all over (but not showing authorship of the quotes or referencing them properly) IS PLAGIARISM
  • Taking text from other sources and inserting it into your essay as if you wrote it, using minor changes to try and hide the copying, IS PLAGIARISM

What is Plagiarism? (related)

  • A lesser offence is writing an essay that is more than 50% quotes from other sources, even properly attributed, i.e. "Insufficient original content"
  • Basically, YOU are writing the essay, so most of the content should be YOUR words
  • As a general guideline, 60% of the content should be your works, with a maximum of 40% quotes
  • An essay you wrote for another course (or even a repeat course) which you now submit for marks without prior permission.

What are the Consequeces of Plagiarism?

  • If detected and confirmed, you can face:
    • A mark of zero on the assignment
    • Redoing the assignment for no marks (i.e. mark of zero plus redo)
    • An immediate course failure (0 or F on the course)
    • Expulsion from Athabasca University
  • When plagiarism is detected and confirmed, the dean is informed and determins the penalty.

What are the Consequeces of Plagiarism?

  • For lesser offenses, you can face:
    • Loss of marks
    • Redoing the assignment for no additional marks

How can you avoid plagiarism?

  • Your -academic writing- must be:
    • Unique
    • Your own original work in your own words
    • Work not previously submitted to this or any other academic institution in whole or in part

Wikipedia & Internet sources?

  • The general reliability of Wikipedia and why many academic institutions do not allow it in academic papers.
  • The biggest problem with internet resources is that they are NOT peer-reviewed academic papers, and they have a worse potential problem: many internet resources are themselves plagiarized, at least in part. As they are not peer reviewed, they do not get the critical analysis of 'other eyes'. These resources copy from other sources. It creates a 'background noise of improper copying' that generates warnings when I review academic essays in this course.
  • An additional problem with internet resources is that besides many of them being mere marketing drivel, many present 'facts' that are either misleading or frequently totally false.
  • Watch the use of internet resources and avoid using them in academic papers.