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Research and Documentation

Academic Honesty and Avoiding Plagiarism:
A Self-Guided Tutorial

by Michael Fleming

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What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism, broadly speaking, is the misrepresentation of another's words, thoughts, or images as one's own. It is hardly a new problem, or one associated only with institutions of higher learning. The theft of words probably long predates writing; you can be sure that the first time in human history someone was esteemed for saying something new, someone else falsely claimed to have said it first. And plagiarism afflicts not only the college professors who assign essays but also literary publishers, newspaper editors, and scholarly writers—anyone, in fact, who values words and where they come from.

The challenge to college students is to understand and apply academia's rigorous rules surrounding the proper crediting of words and ideas. The world of scholarship can only work so long as everyone shares the same ethics and adheres to the same conventions.

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