What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is one of the most common and frequently occurring categories of academic misconduct at university. It may also be the most difficult to grasp because of the many forms it can take. Many other types of cheating are straightforward and require premeditation and planning on the part of the offender, but plagiarism is the form of misconduct which is the most open to innocent misunderstanding. Many factors lead new students to plagiarise: new rules and regulations to learn; misconceptions about what is, and is not, plagiarism; imperfect research skills; poor time-management; and social and academic pressures. Notwithstanding that, students have the responsibility to educate themselves about what plagiarism is The explanations and exercises that follow are intended to help you understand the rules behind academic writing, to learn to avoid plagiarism when you write your papers, and give you some practice using quotations and paraphrasing.

Plagiarism is a combination of stealing and lying about it afterwards. It means using others’ work and misrepresenting that work as your own without giving the author credit: this includes:

  • Ideas
  • Words
  • Data
  • Computer programming
  • Products of any other creative endeavour

An extreme example would be copying or purchasing an entire paper and submitting it as your own. Less extreme would be submitting a paper you have written for credit in another course without prior permission from your instructor. Another, more common example, would be copying another author's phrases, sentences, ideas, or arguments without citing the source. The University of Guelph Calendar has a definition of plagiarism.

Penalties for Plagiarism

The University of Guelph takes plagiarism seriously, and will assess one or more of the following penalties for those found guilty of it:

  1. Requirement to submit a new piece of work or partial or total loss of marks for an assignment or course
  2. An official warning that the next offence will be punished by suspension or expulsion from the university
  3. Rescinding of university-funded scholarships or bursaries
  4. Suspension from the university from one to two years
  5. A recommendation for expulsion from the university
  6. A recommendation to revoke or rescind a degree

All students found guilty of plagiarism will be given an official warning, with a note appended to their record which will remain until they graduate.

Continue to a Plagiarism Case Study