Let's Talk About... Plagiarism


Let’s Talk About…


The academic integrity and honesty of every student is important to not only every higher education institution in the US, but to American National University. In ensuring that integrity, ANU prohibits any kind of stealing or cheating through the act of plagiarism. However, with students having so much access to information with today’s technology, it can be difficult to remember what needs to be cited in papers, or when the right time to cite sources is within work. Learn about the definition of plagiarism, how to avoid it, and ANU’s policies when approaching academic integrity.

What is Plagiarism?

As defined by the University of Oxford, “plagiarism is presenting work or ideas from another source as your own, with or without consent of the original author, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement.” This includes, within Oxford’s definition:

  • All published or unpublished works – in any form like within the manuscript, electronic, or printed form.
  • Re-using your own work without citation.

Plagiarism.com also includes this as they work to understanding and preventing plagiarism: “Plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.” They also go on to explain that as words are intellectual property, they can be stolen and breaking copyright laws. And this includes more than just written work, but anything that is created. From photos, videos, music, and more – if someone can create it, someone else can try to take credit for it.

The act of plagiarism is much more than stealing someone’s words and calling them your own within a paper. As plagiarism.com described, it is also passing someone else’s ideas as your own without giving credit to the author or describing that your information comes from another source. There is nothing wrong with finding your information from other sources and minds, but it becomes wrong when you take that person or entity’s information and passing it off as your own. The best way to combat plagiarism is to properly give credit to those resources you derive your work from.

How Do I Avoid Plagiarism?

The best way you can avoid plagiarism is by going into your assignments with a goal to achieve – like an outline to an essay. Plagiarism.com describes the best way to do so by planning your papers, or in many cases at ANU, you can plan your discussion posts as well. By planning, you can create places to interject your sources information, where to put direct quotes, and get your ideas in line with what needs to be cited. And in doing so, it is important to establish a direct quote, paraphrasing, and summary. Purdue OWL, an invaluable resource for all student citation needs, describes them as this:

  • Direct Quote – These are narrow quotes, not an entire passage. They have to be exactly the same as the material source and must be within quotation marks. They are followed by your writing formats citation within the same sentence so that they are clearly that author’s phrase and not your own.
  • Paraphrasing – This involves taking a passage and describing the information in your own words. This way is usually shorter than the original source section. This rephrased passage must also be followed by your writing formats citation within the final sentence of the source information. This ensures that you are telling the reader that this information is not your intellectual property.
  • Summary – In this way, you take the main points of the passage you are deriving from and putting only those main ideas in your own words. This is different from paraphrasing because they are typically short and only mention the broad ideas. These also need to be followed with your writing formats citation within the final sentence of your summary.

If you’re ever unsure if you need a citation or not, it won’t hurt you to be cautious and do it anyway. This is how you can avoid accidentally committing plagiarism. Another valuable resource to you is talking with your professor. They are more than willing to help you avoid this mistake and provide you resources to better your citations.

What are ANU’s Policies on Plagiarism?

Within ANU’s course catalogues, you will find all academic policies for students. This is  the Code of Academic Integrity Policy: “The members of the American National University community are pledged to academic honesty. As academic honesty is considered to be the keystone of the educational enterprise, any form of dishonesty is considered to be an affront to the entire University community. Academic dishonesty is any form of giving, taking, or prescribing of information or material with intent to gain an unfair advantage in an academic setting.”

Forms of dishonesty include:

  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • Self-Plagiarism (wherein you re-use work previously submitted without prior permission)
  • Poor Scholastic Achievement (not properly citing sources or following published citation criteria)

It is on ANU faculty and staff to enforce this policy, and that enforcement can include receiving a failing or incomplete grade for the course, expulsion from the course, or expulsion from the university.

Plagiarism is important to the integrity of not only the student, but American National University as a whole. The pride of ANU comes from the students and their willingness to learn, achieve, and create with academic honesty. Today’s technology and capabilities allow students to learn at every turn they are online, and it can be easy to plagiarize when copy and pasting is at the click of a button. These best practices can help every student at every point in their education to not steal from others intellectual property. To learn more about the integrity ANU expects of students and faculty, go to an.edu.

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