The Importance of Academic Integrity

Roosevelt University students are responsible for following the university's Academic Integrity Policy.

In the broadest sense, academic dishonesty is any act that enhances a student’s grade unethically and unfairly. Academic dishonesty includes cheating and using unauthorized material on examinations, recycling of your own work without acknowledgment (e.g. submitting the same paper for different classes); fabricating information or making up sources; collaborating improperly; and plagiarizing.

Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously at Roosevelt University, with consequences ranging from failing the assignment or the course to being expelled by the University.

It is important that Roosevelt University students become familiar with the policy: Ignorance of the rules will not be accepted as an excuse when a student is caught in an act of academic dishonesty. The Academic Integrity Policy defines types of academic dishonesty; below the focus is on the act of plagiarism and how to avoid it.

Definition of Plagiarism, with Examples

Roosevelt University has adopted guidelines on academic dishonesty that are intended to help students avoid questions about the integrity of their work in university courses. These guidelines are based on two principles:

  • Assignments turned in for a course are expected to be original work done specifically for that course.
  • Information gathered from published sources (including Internet sources) and used in class assignments must be properly attributed.

Submitting a Paper or Assignment not Written by You

The most flagrant act of plagiarism consists of fraudulently handing in a paper as your own that was written, either entirely or in the most part, by somebody else. Regardless of the source of such a paper – whether borrowed from a friend, from the Internet, or from a published source – turning in a “stolen” paper or assignment results, at the very least, in failing the course for which the assignment was written (Section 8, Consequences of Plagiarism).

Cut-and-Paste Plagiarism

A little more work than simply handing in a copied paper, cut-and-paste plagiarists take paragraphs from different sources and cobble them together, perhaps connecting them with lines of their own for coherence. Unless these copied sections are properly identified and attributed as described below, this is a serious act of plagiarism. It also probably does not result in a good paper, even when proper attribution is used.

Lack of Citation or Improper Citation

In most academic papers, students are expected to use the ideas of others. Learning consists of using those ideas, combining them with those of others, and incorporating them into your own system of thinking. But it is necessary to properly identify and attribute words, ideas and facts you have learned while reading.

Students must learn the rules of proper citation and attribution, or they are likely to commit unintentional acts of plagiarism. Such violations of academic integrity will lead to failing grades or failing courses. It is your responsibility to understand how to properly cite information you have gathered for a specific assignment.

A few examples of plagiarism due to lack of or improper citation of sources are listed below. Guidelines for writing papers that avoid this type of plagiarism are provided in the next section.

a. Copying Without Citation

Any wording copied from another text must be clearly identified by quotation marks or as indented text, and the source must be precisely specified so that the reader is able to locate the text of such a direct citation.

Unique or distinctive phrases (the “apt phrase”), even if consisting of only a few words, must also be attributed to the author who coined them, by being placed in quotation marks and by referring to the exact source where those words can be found.

b. Improper Paraphrasing – Using the Ideas of Others without Attribution

When using someone else’s ideas, it is important to do more than go to the thesaurus and change a few words. It is better to just cite the words directly. When paraphrasing, the original author’s ideas must be reproduced correctly, but in your own words, not duplicating the structure of sentences and paragraphs in the original. Any ideas, thoughts, arguments or reasoning you have learned from a specific source must be attributed to that source, no matter how much rewriting you did. You must specify the original source or be guilty of plagiarism.

c. Citing Facts

Individual facts, charts and figures, or information gained from charts and figures, must be attributed to the source where you obtained the information. If you find conflicting facts or numbers, cite both with the respective source.

d. Common Knowledge

You do not have to refer to a specific source when you are citing “common knowledge” or “commonly known” facts. What is “commonly known” is, of course, debatable, and may differ from discipline to discipline and from place to place. So the safe way to handle “common knowledge” is to cite it if you found out about it in a specific source, especially if you didn’t know about it before.

e. Copyright

You need to properly cite and attribute material, whether it is still under copyright protection or already in the common domain. However, you need to be more careful when citing large sections of copyrighted materials to avoid violating the “fair use” clause of the copyright statute. It is also good writing practice not to cite excessively from one source, so a well-written paper (with proper citations) is not likely to violate copyright law.

There are different reference styles that are used to identify and properly attribute copied text, paraphrased ideas, and the sources of facts cited in papers. At Roosevelt, the two most common citation styles are those recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA). APA style is used primarily in the social sciences and in education; MLA style is used in the liberal arts and humanities. Students must ask instructors which particular citation style they prefer.

Materials obtained from the Internet must include all relevant information that is provided in other publications: author (if available), title, the exact URL where the citation was found to enable readers to find your source, date of publication (if available).

Guidelines for Avoiding Plagiarism in Writing

Taking Notes

Avoiding plagiarism starts with careful note taking. Be sure to clearly mark exact quotes with quotation marks, even if it is just a few words; note the page number and the necessary bibliographic information. Copy citations exactly, marking any deletions you have made.

When paraphrasing in your notes, do not stick too closely to the wording in your source, but rewrite in your own words, always making sure you are not altering the original author’s meaning. Develop a clear system for distinguishing between paraphrased and copied sections of your notes.

When using Internet sources, print them out to avoid too much cutting and pasting, which either leads to poorly written papers or to the temptation of plagiarizing by minimal rewriting.

Writing Your Paper

When writing your paper, always start with an outline (or a very short draft) that provides you with a guide of where you are going. Develop this outline by using your own reasoning, so that paragraphs and sections of your paper follow each other logically in your own mind. This way, your own ideas are more likely to guide what you are writing, though you are integrating the ideas of others in your text.

You should use your own language in most of the paper, using direct citations sparingly and only when they make a point that is difficult to rephrase or particularly well worded, and that fits well into your own reasoning. When using direct quotes, be sure they are well integrated with your own argument and interpreted in your text. A string of undigested quotations makes a very poor paper.

Write without looking at the original source when paraphrasing to insure you are not copying the language and structure of the original too closely. Go back to make sure that you have not changed the author’s basic ideas. And be sure to cite the source of any ideas or information you use in your paper.

Communicating With Your Instructor

Get information on what reference style you are to use, and follow any guidelines for the assignment provided by your instructor. Be sure to communicate with your instructor concerning questions or problems with your paper. Your instructor may also be helpful in finding useful sources on your topic. Some instructors may be willing to read a rough draft of your paper and provide feedback before the final draft is due.

Saving Your Drafts and Your Notes

A series of rough drafts may be useful documentation to convince an instructor who suspects you of plagiarism. Also keep your notes.

Useful References

The two major styles supported by Roosevelt University are those of the APA and the MLA. Students may use the following publications as references for these styles:

  • American Psychological Association. (1998). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
  • Gibaldi, J. (1998). MLA Style Manual (2nd ed.). New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
  • Gibaldi, J. (1999). MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (5th ed.). New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

An instructor in a specific discipline (e.g. chemistry) may recommend another style and reference manual.

This Roosevelt publication has relied on many different policies published by other universities on the Internet. These will also be useful to the student, and some contain detailed examples of how to commit and avoid committing plagiarism.

Internet Style References:

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Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs