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Erik Simpson's Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Plagiarism, according to the Writing Across The University office, "is taking a passage or passages from another person?s discourse, either word for word or in general, and incorporating them as your own into written work you offer for credit."

That doesn?t mean that you aren?t allowed to use other people?s ideas; in fact, good writing often uses the ideas and words of other writers extensively. This practice becomes a problem when you don?t acknowledge your sources. To avoid plagiarizing, use the following techniques (which I am borrowing in part from WATU):

1. Direct Quotation: If you use the exact words or a writer you consulted, you must put their words in quotation marks and tell your reader where the quotation came from.

2. Indirect Quotation: When you summarize or paraphrase another writer, use phrases such as "According to . . . " or "As . . . suggests" to tell your reader what you are doing.

3. General Acknowledgment of Indebtedness: When your thinking has been influenced by a source in a broad way, but you don?t have a specific place to acknowledge that influence, you need to let your reader know that with wording such as "Much of the following discussion is based on material found in . . . ." In most cases, though, one of the first two techniques works better than this one to let your reader know exactly what influence the cited writer has had on your writing.

4. List of Works Cited: This will allow you to list the specific sources you have used. We will discuss the format of the list later.

Basically, plagiarism is the academic version of forgetting to thank someone who has been nice to you. The consequences can be serious, though--any paper that contains plagiarized material must be given an F at Penn, and some cases will require further action through the Office of Student Conduct--so be careful, and ask me if you have any questions about how to handle a given source.