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Kayla Van Osten

Plagiarism: How to Avoid It

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Plagiarism: To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own; Use (another's production) without crediting the source. *

The most obvious forms of plagiarism:

  • Purchasing an essay from the internet (or fellow student).
  • Having a friend or relative write or do your assignment for you. 
  • Copying large sections of text.

Other not so obvious forms of plagiarism:

  • Citing incorrectly (paraphrasing wrong, or not using quotations correctly).
  • Reusing your own work for another assignment
  • Not providing citations for images, graphs, or videos.


Other Helpful Definitions

Copyright: The exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (such as a literary, musical, or artistic work). *

Intellectual Property: Property (such as an idea, invention, or process) that derives from the work of the mind or intellect. *

Fair Use: A legal doctrine that portions of copyrighted materials may be used without permission of the copyright owner provided the use is fair and reasonable, does not substantially impair the value of the materials, and does not curtail the profits reasonably expected by the owner. *

Citation: A description of a book, paper, article, report, video, website, or other work that includes enough information to accuratly locate the source and that has been referenced in the work. These citations are formatted following a specific style, such as APA, MLA, AMA, ASA, Chicago, etc. 

Bibliography/ Works Cited/ References: List of sources the author has references to and cited in the body of the work. The list is usually at the end of the paper, or work and is formatted following a specific style, such as APA, MLA, ASA, AMA, Chicago, etc. 

*Definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Widener University Academic Integrity Policy

Widener University has Academic Regulations that are expected to be followed by all students, faculty, and staff. 

Statement on Academic Integrity

Widener University strongly supports the concept of academic integrity and expects students and all other members of the Widener University community to be honest in all academic endeavors. Cheating, plagiarism, and all other forms of academic fraud are unacceptable; they are serious violations of university policy. In some circumstances, students’ conduct may require review under the research integrity policy, the freedom to learn policy, the judicial review policy, and other university policies. Widener University expects all students to be familiar with university policies on academic integrity, as outlined in this catalog. The university will not accept a claim of ignorance—either of the policy itself or of what constitutes academic fraud—as a valid defense against such a charge.

Violations of Academic Integrity

Violations of academic integrity constitute academic fraud. Academic fraud consists of any action that serves to undermine the integrity of the academic process or that gives the student an unfair advantage, including:

  • inspecting, duplicating or distributing test materials without authorization.
  • cheating, attempting to cheat, or assisting others to cheat.
  • altering work after it has been submitted for a grade.
  • plagiarizing.
  • using or attempting to use anything that constitutes unauthorized assistance.
  • fabricating, falsifying, distorting, or inventing any information, documentation, or citation.

Each student’s program may have on record additional specific acts particular to a discipline that constitutes academic fraud. These specific acts are specified in relevant handbooks or course syllabi.

Statement on Plagiarism

One of the most common violations of academic integrity is plagiarism. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. However, since each student is responsible for knowing what constitutes plagiarism, unintentional plagiarism is as unacceptable as intentional plagiarism and commission of it will bring the same penalties. In many classes, faculty members will provide their definitions of plagiarism. In classes where a definition is not provided, students will be held to the definition of plagiarism that follows:

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism—submitting the work of others as one’s own—is a serious offense. In the academic world, plagiarism is theft. Information from sources—whether quoted, paraphrased, or summarized— must be given credit through specific citations. When a student paraphrases a work, it is still necessary to cite the original source. Merely rearranging a sentence or changing a few words is not sufficient. The citation style should be appropriate for the discipline and should clearly indicate the beginning and ending of the referenced material. All sources used in the preparation of an academic paper must also be listed with full bibliographic details at the end of the paper, as appropriate in the discipline.

Faculty and Student Responsibilities

  • Every student, faculty member, and administrator is responsible for upholding the highest standards of academic integrity. Every member of the Widener community shall honor the spirit of this policy by refusing to tolerate academic fraud.
  • When expectations for a course are not addressed in this policy, it is the responsibility of the instructor to provide students with additional guidelines for what constitutes “authorized” and “unauthorized” assistance.
  • It is the responsibility of every student to seek clarification if in doubt about what constitutes “authorized” and “unauthorized” assistance. In cases of collaborative work, all students within the collaborative group may be responsible for “unauthorized” assistance to any individual student within the collaborative group.
  • Students are required to obtain permission prior to submitting work, any part of which was previously or will be submitted in another course. The instructor has the option of accepting, rejecting, or requiring modification of the content of previously or simultaneously submitted work.

A student who suspects that a violation of academic integrity has occurred should report that violation to the associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs or their dean. In this report, the student should describe any action taken, such as talking with the person involved or with a faculty or staff member. Every effort will be made to preserve the anonymity of the student reporting the incident; however, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.