Plagiarism: Definitions, and How to Avoid It
Plagiarism is a serious issue and, as an institution of the Orthodox Church seeking to promote growth in Orthodox understanding and life, is something the Institute takes very seriously. It is essential that all students of the Institute understand what plagiarism is, and that serious penalties apply in all circumstances where it is encountered.
DEFINITION: Plagiarize v.t.: Take and use as one’s own (the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person); copy (literary works, ideas, etc.) improperly or without acknowledgement; pass off the thoughts, work, etc., of (another person) as one’s own. (From the Oxford English Dictionary)
In essence, plagiarism is the passing off of someone else’s work as your own, whether through intentional deception or failure to acknowledge properly the sources — whether of quotations or of paraphrases — you have used in your thought and writing. Take care to note: even ‘accidental plagiarism’ (e.g. plagiarism that is the result failing to cite sources properly, for whatever reason) is still plagiarism, and is still subject to strict censure.
When encountered in higher education, plagiarism is usually the result of:
- An attempt to pass off someone else’s work as your own. Some individuals attempt deliberately to present someone else’s work as their own, either in sections or as a whole work.
- Poor note taking and record keeping of your reading and quotations. If you do not take proper notes, you may end up including someone else’s words, thoughts or ideas in your essays as if they were your own. For example: if you read a book and note down certain phrases and ideas, but don’t record the author, title, page, etc., and then include these elements in your writing without attribution, you will be plagiarising that author’s / source’s work. While you may feel this was ‘accidental’ if caught out, it is nonetheless plagiarism that could have easily been prevented by proper note taking and citation.
- Rushed work. Students who wait to the last minute to write an essay often fall prey to the temptation to use someone else’s work in order to produce something to hand in by the deadline.
- A lazy use of quotations or the work of an author. Proper usage of secondary work requires accurate citations whenever another’s material is used — either in quotation or in paraphrase. Citing a work once in an essay, but drawing directly from it numerous times throughout your writing, is not sufficient referencing and may cross the line into plagiarism.
Plagiarism is easily avoided by:
- Ensuring that you clearly attribute quotations and paraphrases or summaries to their authors / sources, usually by means of footnotes (clear guidance on this is provided for you in our style guide).
- Amplifying / clarifying references to authors, books, ideas, concepts, opinions and judgements in footnotes.
Plagiarism will result in strict penalties, and the institution of plagiarism review panels and sanctions that may include expulsion from Institute programs. Derivative work is likely to get a low 3rd-class mark. Poor referencing or poor scholarship is likely to get a fail mark.