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Academic Honesty/Integrity and Plagiarism

November 2, 2011

Image courtesy of alamosbasement at Flickr


Many schools in the U.S. have rules about plagiarism, either in their handbooks or listed separately under their ‘Academic Honesty’ or ‘Academic Integrity’ policies. Plagiarism is presenting an idea as your own when it is in fact not your idea. Students most often plagiarize in an essay or some other piece of writing. In the U.S. and much of Europe, plagiarism is a serious offence, even if a student unintentionally plagiarizes, but schools are very capable of educating international students on proper citations and referencing. Referencing where an idea came from with a citation prevents plagiarism.

When writing a paper, it becomes necessary to introduce or refer to another person’s idea—especially if the paper is about a novel read in class or if research was done to gather information. According to The University of Leeds Guide on plagiarism, a student has three ways of incorporating an author’s idea into a paper: summarizing, paraphrasing, or directly quoting. Direct quotations involve the use of quotation marks “”. Students may sometimes feel that the author expresses an idea in a way that they cannot condense or shorten, or maybe the exact phrasing is important to accurate express an idea, so they will wish to use a direct quotation in their paper. If this is the case, not using quotation marks and not referencing the original article, book, or website from which the direct quotation was taken, is plagiarism.

Students in high school usually do not have to use specific style guides depending on the academic discipline (economics, literature, etc.)—this is more prevalent at the college level. Teachers usually inform students of which style guide they prefer at the beginning of the school year or semester. However, it is good to be aware of the various styles available to writers:


Logo from official Associated Press Stylebook website

Associated Press Style: journalism

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Chicago Manual of Style: social sciences and sciences (author, date style); humanities (documentary note style)

Logo from official MLA website

Modern Language Associated (MLA) Style: humanities



While schools and teachers may just ask the student to rewrite a portion or all of a plagiarized paper, students who repeatedly plagiarize on assignments will be penalized. It is highly recommended that students review their school’s handbook or the policies on academic honesty/integrity for a better idea on the school’s disciplinary actions. Many high schools will automatically fail the student in that particular assignment on which the student plagiarized. Repeated infractions may cause the school to take severe action against the student, as well as failing the student in multiple assignments. This may seem very harsh, but these high schools are just preparing their students for the expectations of professors at college, where plagiarism is taken even more seriously.

Still uncertain about how to avoid plagiarism? Discuss your fears and problems with an English teacher or the teacher assigning the paper. Most teachers are very open to the idea of reading a rough draft to check for proper citations and referencing. With their feedback and the experience that comes with writing multiple papers throughout the school year, plagiarism will become a non-issue.

Good luck!


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons






Di Maria, David L. “Plagiarism from a Cross-Cultural Perspective.” Al Jamiat Magazine, June 4, 2009. Accessed November 1, 2011.

Purdue University. “Purdue Online Writing Lab.” Accessed November 1, 2011.

The Chicago Manual of Style. “The Chicago Manual of Style Online: Chicago-Style Quick Citation Guide.” Accessed November 1, 2011.

The Higher Education Academy. “Addressing Plagiarism.” Accessed November 1, 2011.

The University of Leeds. “Plagiarism – University of Leeds Guide.” Accessed November 1, 2011.

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