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Living Up to Code:

Avoiding Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty at Hiram College

We are very concerned at Hiram College that you understand and adhere to the principles of academic honesty.  We know that this is not the first time, nor the first place, that this subject has been introduced to you.  We know that you understand the absolute importance of attributing others’ ideas and words to them—not pretending that they are your own.  We take these things as givens, and welcome you into the community of scholars because you believe them too.

Those of us who have struggled with the demands and joys of scholarship understand what hard work it is, and by understanding that, we understand that those who have engaged in thought and writing before us must, meticulously, be given credit for what they have done.  Your relationship as a writer and researcher to other writers and researchers who have come before you is one of respect and acknowledgment.  Who among us does not hope that our own work will one day be appreciated and recognized by others?

You need to understand, even this early in your career at Hiram College, that the consequences of not crediting and acknowledging your sources are severe.  The Student Handbook  very clearly articulates the procedure that will be followed in cases of plagiarism, as well as other forms of academic dishonesty.

But you will not have to worry about this if you work and live in the spirit of true scholarship.

The faculty at Hiram College believes that few students deliberately plagiarize.  We live and work, together, in the spirit of mutual trust—not suspicion.  However, we also know that careless habits and an unclear notion of college expectations for research writing sometimes put students at risk.

 

So I would ask you to think about some of the suggestions below:

  • Even when you paraphrase, you must include a parenthetical citation so we know whose idea you are including, and what page it occurs on.

  • Did you know that when you paraphrase you are responsible for doing far more than just plugging in a few synonyms?  If you use the exact word order of the original line, this is also a form of plagiarism, even though all the main words have been changed.

  • You should always use a signal phrase (Hacker’s term) or some sort of attribution when you introduce a quotation.  For example, you might say any of the following: As Hacker writes, According to Hacker, As Hacker has said.  You should always name your sources, not try to meld yourself with them.

  • Have you ever placed a parenthetical citation (or footnote, if you used the footnote system in your high school) at the end of a long paragraph--a paragraph completely paraphrased, consisting of multiple sentences?  How are we to know, without a signal phrase, where the paraphrase begins?  Which lines are yours and which your authority’s?

  • Do you understand your source well enough to paraphrase it?  Sometimes an authority writes in such a complicated way, or deals with such complex ideas that you might be tempted to paraphrase very awkwardly or to include more words from the original source than you really need because you don’t understand the concept being discussed in your source.  You cannot successfully paraphrase until you do!!

  • One way to avoid losing your focus is to make sure that topic sentences very seldom contain quotations.  You should use those sentences (and many more) to advance the main lines of your argument or the particular synthesis of information that you are trying to convey.  If your only job is to scissors and paste the views of others together, you will not necessarily be guilty of academic dishonesty (though the risks are higher that errors like those above might occur).  However, your work will nonetheless lack the intellectual ambition we expect it to exhibit.

 

Research papers and essays promote learning and growth.  They are integral to your experience at Hiram College.  As we write them, we realize—and acknowledge—our debt to others, as well as our own distinct contribution to knowledge.  We are a part of a community of learners. One day, many of you reading this page will write something so good, so wise, and so important that others in your field will want to refer to what you have said.  You will have deserved a nod of recognition—you will have earned it.  You, in turn, must tip your hat to others now.

 

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