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Avoiding Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty: Guide

What is plagiarism?

When you write, the content of your work may come from three sources:

  • Your own original thoughts and ideas
  • The work of others
  • Common knowledge

Whenever you use the work of others in your writing, it should be attributed. This gives proper credit where due to the originators of ideas and knowledge. It also allows readers to verify information that they may otherwise question.

Common knowledge does not need to be cited. There are varying definitions of common knowledge. According to Purdue's Online Writing Lab, "Generally, common knowledge is information that someone finds undocumented in at least five credible sources." If it is a fact or a saying that most people in a field are familiar with, without a defined origin, it is likely considered common knowledge.


Expectations regarding plagiarism

In your academic career, you will be asked to write many papers, reports, and assignments, and you will be required to do so using your own original words. In order to avoid charges of academic misconduct, you must avoid plagiarism and similar forms of misconduct.

Actions that may be considered plagiarism:

  • Copying others' writing or ideas, in part or in whole, using exact words or paraphrasing, without proper attribution
  • Buying papers or assignments from others to submit as your own work
  • Hiring a ghost writer to complete your work for you
  • Copying code snippets from other sources without attribution
  • Using an equation in your writing without attribution

Note: It is possible to plagiarize accidentally! This can happen when you paraphrase a little too closely, or when you accidentally use wording that is similar to something you've read in the past. Carefully providing citations as you are writing can help you avoid this.


Consequences of Plagiarizing

As an MSOE student, you can face serious consequences for plagiarism. You may be significantly docked in your grade for an assignment or class. You may face a variety of academic consequences for plagiarism, ranging all the way up to expulsion from the university, depending on the severity of the plagiarism.

MSOE professors and instructors may use Turnitin software to check for plagiarism. If you've copied some of your work from another source, it's likely to be flagged.

There are also consequences in the professional world for plagiarizing. It could jeopardize a job or your entire career if you are found to have copied unattributed work from others or otherwise taken credit for ideas or knowledge that aren't your own. Plagiarism is a very serious offense and it's not worth risking the consequences. Avoid consequences by taking care to do your own work and properly attribute the work of others.

Plagiarism Resources


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