Each student shall be honest in her academic work and shall support the honesty of others. She shall, moreover, guard against any appearance of dishonesty. Faculty members have a responsibility to refer to the College policy on academic honesty at the beginning of each course. Teachers shall foster the honesty of their students by conducting each course in a manner which discourages cheating or plagiarism. They shall, moreover, thoroughly investigate any evidence of cheating in their classes. Course instructors who have evidence of cheating or plagiarism shall make the charge and any subsequent action known to the student. Only then shall an appropriate penalty be imposed as stated in the course syllabus. It is recommended that the instructor submit in writing the name of any student found guilty of academic dishonesty serious enough to have been penalized, along with a description of the penalty imposed, to the Dean of Student Academic Services. Such reports will be kept in confidence, except in the case of continued violations by a student, in which case the reports may be presented to the Committee on Academic Standards.
The instructor of the course in which a violation of academic honesty occurs will determine an appropriate penalty. Penalties may range from a refusal of credit for an individual assignment to failure in the course, depending on the seriousness of the offense. In cases recommended to it for further consideration, the Committee on Academic Standards may also recommend other penalties, including academic dismissal from the College.
When a student submits any work for academic credit, she makes an implicit claim that the work is wholly her own, done without the assistance of any person or source not explicitly noted, and that the work has not previously been submitted for academic credit in any other area. Students are free to study and work together on homework assignments unless specifically asked not to by the instructor. In the case of examinations (test, quizzes, etc.), the student also implicitly claims that she has obtained no prior unauthorized information about the examination, and that she will neither give nor obtain any assistance during the examination. Moreover, a student shall not prevent others from completing their work. Examples of violation include but are not limited to the following:
Any exception to the above must be explicitly stated by the person giving academic credit for the work.
Plagiarism means presenting, as one’s own, the works, the work, or the opinions of someone else. It is dishonest, since the plagiarist offers, as her own, for credit, language, information, or thought for which she deserves no credit. Plagiarism occurs when one uses the exact language of someone else without putting the quoted material in quotation marks and giving its source (exceptions are well-known quotations—from the Bible or Shakespeare, for example). In formal papers, the source is acknowledged in a footnote; in informal papers, it may be put in parentheses or made a part of the text: “Robert Sherwood says…” This first type of plagiarism, using without acknowledgment the language of someone else, is easy to understand and to avoid. When a writer uses the exact words of another writer or speaker, she must enclose those words in quotation marks and give their source.
A second type of plagiarism is more complex. It occurs when the writer presents, as her own, the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, and/or the pattern of thought of someone else, even though she expresses it in her own words. The language may be hers, but she is presenting and taking credit for the work of another. She is, therefore, guilty of plagiarism if she fails to give credit to the original author of the pattern of ideas.
Students writing informal theses, in which they are usually asked to draw on their own experience and information, can guard against plagiarism by a simple test. They should be able to answer no to the following questions:
If the answer to these questions is no, the writer need have no fear of using sources dishonestly. The material in her mind, which she will transfer to her written paper, is genuinely digested and her own. The writing of a research paper presents a somewhat different problem; the student is expected to gather material from books and articles read for the purpose of writing the paper. In the careful research paper, however, (and this is true of term papers in all college courses), credit is given in footnotes for every idea, conclusion, or piece of information which is not the writer’s own, and the writer is careful not to follow closely the wording of the sources she has read. If she wishes to quote, she encloses the passage in quotation marks and gives credit to the author in a footnote, but she writes the bulk of the paper in her own words and in her own style, using footnotes to acknowledge the facts and ideas taken from her reading.
Saint Mary’s College, which has edited this material, reprints it with the permission of the publisher from Understanding and Using English, by Newman P. Birk and Genevieve B. Birk (Odyssey Press: 1972)