Plagiarism is the use of someone else's words or ideas without giving that person credit. It is the cardinal sin of students and scholars. Plagiarism is essentially fraud, since the plagiarist gets the credit for someone else's work. Apart from being morally wrong, plagiarism makes it impossible to evaluate what the plagiarist knows or understands, since he or she is simply passing on someone else's material. Using sections of books, course readings, web pages, prepared lecture notes, or another student's work all constitute plagiarism. If two students turn in work with identical phrases, one or both has plagiarized.
Do not plagiarize. If I detect what I consider to be significant, intentional plagiarism in any written assignment, the assignment will receive zero credit. Severe or repeated plagiarism from any source, including your classmates, is grounds for an "F" in the course. I have failed several students for plagiarism.
It is easy to avoid plagiarizing. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Use your own words.
- Do not copy from any source without using quotation marks and giving the source.
- When you get information from any source, including a classmate, reword it so that it is phrased sufficiently differently from the original that the relationship is not evident when they are compared. One method is to describe the source, like "Smith (1997) said that the moon was made of green cheese" or "according to Jones (2001), cows cannot exceed escape velocity." Close paraphrasing without giving credit is just as much plagiarism as stealing a quotation, so make sure your work is clearly different from the source. Give the full reference for the source in a footnote, endnote, or bibliography.
- If you must use the exact words from any source, put them in quotation marks and give the reference. It is rarely necessary to use someone else's words. Exceptions include phrases that are particularly witty or clever, cases where the exact wording is important (as in historical sources, translations, etc.), or cases in which you are trying to establish that particular author's point of view (in which case his or her own words may prove your point).
- Any information that is not common knowledge and has not been discovered by you personally must be accompanied by a bibliographic reference. Common knowledge does not include most of the archaeological data and theories in this course, nor does it include much of what you find in reference books. In textbooks and other sources that compile a lot of information, references are often simply listed at the end, without indicating which information came from which. This is a marginally acceptable practice that you should avoid in your academic writing.
Exception: You may use information (the ideas, not the wording) from the textbook, assigned course readings, or lectures in this course's assignments without citing the references. This is only acceptable because I am telling you in advance that I will assume the citation for information that I recognize. If you get information from other sources (books, encyclopedias, web pages, etc.), give the source. Otherwise I may not be able to tell whether the information is correct or results from a misunderstanding on your part.
Do not plagiarize. If you have any questions about proper use of information, feel free to ask.