Plagiarism, which is a violation of the Honor Code, is presenting as one’s own the writing or research of others. Three devices used to avoid plagiarism are quotation marks, citations, and lists of Works Cited.
Quotation marks must be used to acknowledge all direct (word-for-word) quotations, no matter how short, especially of striking words and phrases. For long quotations (usually four lines or more) indentation of the quoted lines is a standard substitute for quotation marks.
Neither quotation marks nor citations are used when both the idea and its wording come from the student’s own mind, as the products of creative thought. Citations are also not required when the statement is common knowledge. Common knowledge is to be understood as those easily verifiable facts available in the experience of educated persons and in a standard desk dictionary (e.g., the birth and death dates of a prominent person cited in a biographical entry in a standard dictionary or encyclopedia). But common knowledge does not include the content of encyclopedia articles, for these are often original scholarly works, sometimes even signed by the author; encyclopedia articles must therefore be documented if used. In a particular field of study, common knowledge may have a wider application; it may include, for example, certain basic assumptions regarding textual criticism in Biblical studies, even though the same assumptions would not be common knowledge in another field. Note that all borrowings from electronic sources—for example, from CD-ROMs, email, or the World Wide Web—must be acknowledged like other primary and secondary sources. Consult the Rhetoric handbook or ask your instructor about the proper form for such documentation.
Properly formed citations with a list of Works Cited in correct Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), or Chicago bibliographic form at the end of the essay must be used to acknowledge the source of direct quotations; of any borrowed fact, idea, or concept; or of any copied table, chart, diagram, or other arrangement of facts or statistics (see the Rhetoric Program handbook for details about the different documentation styles). Similarly, proper documentation is necessary for material from sources that is paraphrased or summarized (note that paraphrase means “to put entirely in one’s own words,” not merely to alter a word or two here and there).
On some occasions for a particular assignment, a professor may allow her or his students to omit documentation, especially if the assignment specifies the sources to be used. Those students, however, must not assume that such allowance permits them to ignore on other occasions the standard practices of documentation in writing and scholarship.
Every writer should keep in mind that his or her name as author on a paper, whether submitted to a professor in a course or to an editor for publication, is an implicit claim to full authorship of the contents; readers have the right to expect authors to point out any exceptions to full authorship. When in doubt, always acknowledge the source or ask your professor for assistance.
All work submitted to a professor is considered pledged work, whether or not the submitted work will receive a grade. “Draft” work refers to work that is currently in the process of being written and has not yet been formally submitted to a professor. Some professors require that early versions of a paper be formally submitted before a final submitted version is graded. While professors may refer to these versions as “drafts” in syllabi, assignment sheets, or spoken comments, these submitted papers are not considered “drafts” by the Honor Court; they are considered pledged work since they have been formally submitted to a professor. The Court considers a “draft” to be student work that has not been submitted to a professor.
For example, if a student brings a draft to a professor for consultation before that draft is formally submitted in any way, the discovery of incorrectly attributed or cited content in the draft by the professor is not grounds for referral to the student justice system. Should a student be referred to the student justice system at this point in the drafting process, the following procedure will occur: a representative of the Honor Court will meet with both the student and the professor and explain that if this document, in its current form, were formally submitted in any way, it would most likely be considered plagiarism by the Court.
Professors have discretion in deciding whether to refer cases of apparent plagiarism to the student justice system when students formally submit earlier versions of an assignment before a final version is to be collected and graded. The reason for this discretion is that, because of the nature of the assignment and the sequential way in which it is being submitted (that is, an assignment’s being submitted in several versions or parts over a period of time, rather than all at once), the individual professor is best able to determine the context of apparent plagiarism.
For example, if a student seems genuinely to have made a clumsy error in this early version of a paper, the professor may simply notify him of the error—with the warning that this error or others like it in future submissions may be referred to the student justice system. Alternately, if the apparent plagiarism does not appear to be the result of an error—for example, a student’s purchasing a paper online and submitting it as his own work—the professor may immediately refer the student to the student justice system.
Once a student has been referred to the student justice system because of an issue detected in submitted work—as opposed to “draft” work as described above—the student justice system will follow the normal procedures of bringing cases to trial.