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Graduate Students' Guide to Library Resources and Services

Resources, tools, and services provided to graduate students by the University of Cincinnati Libraries.

What is plagiarism?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as follows:

plagiarism, n.

  1. The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft.
  2. A particular idea, piece of writing, design, etc., which has been plagiarized; an act or product of plagiary.

The UC Student Code of Conduct defines plagiarism as:

  • submitting another’s published or unpublished work in whole, in part or in paraphrase, as one’s own without fully and properly crediting the author with footnotes, quotation marks, citations, or bibliographic references.
  • submitting as one’s own original work, material obtained from an individual, agency, or the internet without reference to the person, agency or webpage as the source of the material.
  • submitting as one’s own original work material that has been produced through unacknowledged collaboration with others without release in writing from collaborators
  • submitting one’s own previously written or oral work without modification and instructor permission.

Learn more about plagiarism and its avoidance

Plagiarism in the sciences

In science, each discovery and paper builds on previous discoveries and can be understood in the context of prior knowledge.Relevant work is summarized briefly for its support of the new finding.All statements about prior work derive their legitimacy from the replicability of the work, and citation of that work is essential to the weight of the statements.It is therefore advantageous to cite prior work as much as possible.For that reason,seldom is any individual work mentioned in the form of text longer than a sentence; exact wording is almost never quoted.The rare exception would be a short quotation of a remarkable statement in a review article.Plagiarism of ideas is more difficult to track, but is contrary to the purpose and practice of science. Guidelines on these points are specifically detailed by the American Chemical Society, among others.

In addition, plagiarism in the sciences is part of a broader definition of misconduct inresearch.The recognition of the larger framework into which the specific issue of plagiarism in the sciences fits can be seen in the National Science Foundation (NSF) definition of research misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.” Issues of citation when using other people’s work, however, apply in the sciences as in other fields of academic work.

(The content of this box is taken from Avoiding and Detecting Plagiarism: A Guide for Graduate Students and Faculty created at the Graduate Center, City University of New York).

Plagiarism prevention instruction for your students

As a teaching assistant, you need to educate your students about plagiarism and its consequences. Direct your students to the interactive library tutorial:

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