Honest Work and Academic Integrity: Plagiarism

Why have we created this page?

Like all your fellow students, you have come here to learn and to succeed academically in pursuit of your dreams. We are providing this brochure to help you understand the importance of the rules in place. We want you to do honest work and help you avoid mistakes. We don’t want you to violate rules you may not have fully understood. Please read on for some of the rules of academic honesty and some practical illustrations on what you must know at the University of Chicago.

Let us start with three key points:
1)     The rules of academic honesty are sometimes not well understood, but they are very important and following them is vital to your education and success at the University of Chicago and in academic life in general;
2)     You are expected to know and follow the key rules even if they are different from the rules you learned in your home country or in previous experience;
3)     If you are not sure about a situation, talk to your professor, consult with someone in the Writing Program, or contact your adviser at OIA. We are always happy to help you sort out a problem in advance. We suggest that you do not ask fellow students (except for your TA). They may not give you an accurate answer, and they are not the ones giving you a grade for the work done, so an error made on the advice of another student can get you in trouble.

What do we mean by honest work?

Honest work may mean something different to you as an international student than to your professors at the University of Chicago. However, at the University of Chicago you must abide by the standards of U.S. academic life. These same standards apply to everyone, including your professors!
You do honest work when:
1)     You say you did the work yourself, you actually did it.
2)     You rely on someone else’s work, you cite it. When you use their words, you quote them openly and accurately, and you cite them, too.
3)     You present research materials, you present them fairly and truthfully. That’s true whether the research involves data, document, or the writings of other scholars. (Lipson 2004: 3)

What is plagiarism?

“It is not a parking ticket. It's a highway crash. If it looks deliberate, it's a highway crash without seatbelts.” (Lipson 2004: 32)

Simply put, plagiarism is using words and thoughts of others as if they were your own. Any time you borrow from an original source and do not give proper credit, you have committed plagiarism. While there are different degrees and types of plagiarism, plagiarism is not just about honesty, it is also a violation of property law and is illegal. Therefore cite – proper citations do not make you look less smart and do not make you less of an academic.

What are the consequences of plagiarism?
We know that students do not want to plagiarize and fully intend to follow all rules in place. But, for a number of reasons and in a number of ways, plagiarism does occur, and the consequences are severe.  An instructor may assign you a grade of F for an assignment or even for the course where you were found to have plagiarized. You may also become subject to the University’s discipline procedures* which can result in sanctions that severely disrupt or even end your studies at the University. Not citing properly or plagiarizing jeopardizes not only your future at the University of Chicago but your future in general.
*Please see http://studentmanual.uchicago.edu.

Consider the examples below:

Example A:
The original passage: “Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes.” Lester, James. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.
A legitimate paraphrase: In research papers students often quote excessively, failing to keep quoted material down to a desirable level. Since the problem usually originates during note taking, it is essential to minimize the material recorded verbatim (Lester 46-47).
An acceptable summary: Students should take just a few notes in direct quotation from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester 46-47).
A plagiarized version: Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.   Source: Purdue Writing Lab

Example B:
The original passage:
Joe Blow was a happy man, who often walked down the road whistling and singing. (Sentence in the book Joe Blow: His Life and Times, by Jay Scrivener)
A correct citation (example): According to Scrivener, Joe Blow was “a happy man,” who often showed it by singing tunes to himself.”99 OR Joe Blow appeared happy and enjoyed whistling and singing to himself.99
A wrong/plagiarized version: Joe Blow was a happy man and often walked down the road singing and whistling. (no citation) OR Joe Blow appeared to be “a happy man” and often walked down the road whistling and singing.99

Helpful Tip: There is not much to recommend for a frantic 2am writing besides taking a deep breath and one more cup of coffee. But perhaps one thing may be helpful: try to use Refworks to keep track of your sources. That way, you will not forget to compile a proper bibliography. Also practice paraphrasing and learn how NOT to plagiarize: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/04/

Source: Charles Lipson, Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism and Achieve Real Academic Success




UChicago Online Resources:

Assistance in building English proficiency.

A helpful guide on how to use citation management tools such as RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero.

A detailed guide to citation from the University of Chicago Library. Includes instructions on locating and using major citation manuals and style guides, as well as information about using RefWorks bibliographic management tool.

RefWorks is a web-based bibliographic management tool provided by the University of Chicago Library that makes creating bibliographies and citing resources quick and easy. The Library's RefWorks' web site links to information about classes and extensive online tutorials, as well as help guides on keeping organized and citing resources using RefWorks' Write-N-Cite feature.

Special style guidelines required by the University of Chicago for dissertations, as well as information on permissions and copyright.  It is located in Room 100B of the Joseph Regenstein Library.

A helpful guide by Joseph M. Williams and Lawrence McEnerney designed for College students writing papers in the Humanities Core and Social Sciences Core sequences.

Other Online Resources