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Plagiarism Prevention and Procedures

Procedures and Penalties:
All cases of suspected plagiarism are brought to the Chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Studies. If the Chair determines, in consultation with the instructor, that an academic offence has been committed, an appropriate penalty is imposed. If the penalty is a zero on the essay (the most common penalty), then the Office of Undergraduate Studies will inform the student of this penalty by letter, with a copy to the Associate Dean, Academic. The student then has the right to appeal this decision. Should the student not appeal, or if the appeal is unsuccessful, a letter documenting the offence is sent to the Dean’s office, where it is kept on file. Repeat offences may receive harsher penalties.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is one of the most common, and most serious of scholastic offences. Sometimes, given how accessible information on the internet has become, it is tricky to determine whether or not one is plagiarizing. Living as we do in the era of downloading, we sometimes mistake accessibility to information with ownership of that information. Plagiarism, unlike other forms of cheating, does not necessarily require premeditated intention; students can be guilty of plagiarism even if they do not intend to deceive an instructor into believing that ideas, phrases, and sentences stolen from other people are not their own. There are different reasons why students inadvertently plagiarize: they are confused about the rules surrounding plagiarism; they manage their time poorly; they are under academic stress; they fail to hone their research skills.  That said, students are responsible for knowing and understanding what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it. Below students will find some useful material to help improve their academic writing and research skills, and to ensure that the work they turn in is their own.

Preventing Plagiarism
Plagiarism is the act of stealing another person’s work or ideas and calling them your own. The word plagiarism, in Latin, originally meant “kidnapper”: in an academic sense, it means kidnapping another author’s work and ransoming it for grades by failing to give the author credit. It includes appropriating:

It is very important to cite the sources you use properly. If you are using an article or chapter you have discovered online for the purposes of research, you must include all pertinent information about the source in your bibliography, and cite the source correctly in the body of your essay or assignment. Avoid simply “blocking and copying” when researching a topic; keep a log of the sources you are using, who wrote them, and when/where they were published.  Avoid using non-scholarly sources in your papers; using reputable books, journals, and e-journals will help remove the temptation to copy sentences from Wikipedia, Spark Notes, Enotes, and other similar sites with anonymous authors.

Other Forms of Plagiarism:

- Buying a paper and calling it your own
- Re-submitting a paper you have written in a previous course for credit (This is a bad way to Reuse and Recycle)

Remember, if you are not sure that you have cited, quoted, and otherwise acknowledged your sources correctly, you should feel free to ask your instructor before you submit your essay or assignment. The goal of the Department of English is to teach students proper research skills, and to help students avoid committing this serious academic offence.  

"The department's Information for Students provides more information about department practices. The Senate regulations governing plagiarism are in the Academic Calendar

Department of English - The University of Western Ontario
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