Addresses the ethical responsibilities of authors. Avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty.


Plagiarism can be deliberate or the result of carelessness. Individual colleges have unique policies for addressing plagiarism. Some colleges, for example, expel students after their first offense; others place an “FF” on the student’s transcript, creating a permanent blemish on the student’s academic record.

Plagiarism involves

  1. The theft of someone else’s words
  2. The theft of someone else’s ideas
  3. The failure to properly cite someone’s ideas, either directly or in a paraphrase.

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty is synonymous with cheating. Cheating can refer to a situation in which authors ask others to write a part of a document or the entire document.

Cheating is a national epidemic. Outside the classroom, our culture is facing serious moral challenges. In the last few years, the world markets have nearly collapsed under what seems like wave after wave of unethical behavior.

Students are guilty of academic dishonesty when they

  1. Secretly arrange to have an entire document written for them by other individuals and then submit the ghost-written material to their instructor.
  2. Copy all or part of passages from a work written by others without properly attributing sources.
  3. Receive unacknowledged assistance from others.
  4. Submit the same paper to multiple courses (without permission).

Web sites that sell student essays are increasingly popular. Sites such as SchoolSucks.Com receive over 40,000 hits a day, and there are literally dozens of such sites. In a recent national survey of 4,500 students conducted by the Rutgers Management Education Center, 75 percent of the students report they routinely cheat. In a survey of students at Penn State, 44 percent of the students reported cheating on college assignments.

In response, educators are fighting back. Many instructors now:

  1. Require students to visit Web sites that define plagiarism and review conventions for citing sources.
  2. Require students to sign honor codes.
  3. Use software tools to check documents that seem questionable.
  4. Design writing assignments that are so specialized that substitutes are not easily found online.

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty Resources

Plagiarism: What it is and how to recognize it:

A site from Indiana University comparing acceptable and unacceptable practices in citing the work of others.

The Least You Should Know about Plagarism:
A guide to understanding plagarism from DeKalb University.

Plagiarism and Anti-Plagiarism:

Includes a discussion of plagiarism and links to plagiarism Web sites, press articles, and Web search engines MLA Handbook & Web Citation Style.

Accountability Form:
Checklist students can use to ensure they understand plagiarism rules and haven’t plagiarized.

Plagiarism in Colleges in USA:

This is an extensive site on plagiarism, addressing the subject from a legal standpoint.

Cyberplagiarism: Detection and Prevention:
Penn State’s extensive resource for faculty and students, including numerous annotated plagiarism links and an online quiz for students.

The Plagiarism Resource Guide:

University of Virginia site that offers free shareware that is designed to help teachers identify plagiarized papers: “This program examines a collection of document files. It extracts the text portions of those documents and looks through them for matching words in phrases of a specified minimum length. When it finds two files that share enough words in those phrases, WCopyfind generates html report files. These reports contain the document text with the matching phrases underlined.”