Avoiding plagiarism in Core Humanities

We expect all students in Core Humanities to do their own work. Copying someone else's work, or allowing your own work to be copied, is dishonest and unfair to other students who are striving to complete assignments and essays on their own.

The academic standards section of the University catalog defines plagiarism as "(1) the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit; (2) the submission of ideas, processes, results or words not originating with the author and developed specifically for the work at hand without the appropriate credit being given; or (3) assisting in the act of plagiarism by allowing one's work to be used as described above." Plagiarism is a serious form of academic misconduct and has serious consequences, as explained below. It is very important to understand what kinds of actions are defined as academic dishonesty, along with the sanctions that will be applied to such actions.

Plagiarism does not just mean copying someone else's entire paper or article. "Ideas, processes, results or words" includes any material used in your assignments and essays that were written by others. Copying brief phrases or sentences from books, articles, internet sites, documents or other sources without letting your reader know where they came from is a form of plagiarism. You must properly acknowledge your use of other people's words by placing them in quotation marks and citing all sources used in your paper. Even if you paraphrase someone else's ideas and do not quote them directly, you still must acknowledge your source. Citations also should be given for little-known facts and statistics.

Citations generally include the author's name, the title of the work and page number, and may appear in parentheses within the body of the essay or in a footnote. You should also include a bibliography at the end of your paper listing the full publication information for all sources used (e.g., author's name, the title of the work, publication place, publisher's name and date of publication). Be sure to follow any specific guidelines your instructor provides for citing sources, or ask your instructor how to cite sources if you are not sure. Unintentional, as well as intentional plagiarism, can land you in trouble, so make sure you understand what plagiarism is and how to properly cite sources. We have seen some cases of plagiarism in Core Humanities involving students who copied assignments from other students who took the course in a previous semester, or students who collaborated on assignments and turned in virtually identical answers to the questions. Note that under the University of Nevada, Reno's academic dishonesty policy, these actions are punishable with academic or disciplinary sanctions for all of the students involved - i.e., those who assist cheating students as well as the cheating students themselves. Copying another student's work places that student at risk of an academic dishonesty charge as well as you. Do not copy other students' work and do not allow your own work to be used in this way.

The University's academic standards policy lists the following possible sanctions for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Filing a final grade of "F"
  2. Reducing the student's final course grade one or two full grade points
  3. Awarding a failing mark on the test or paper in question
  4. Requiring the student to re-take the test or re-submit the paper

The most common sanction applied in the Core Humanities program is to file a final grade of F. Students may not withdraw from a course to avoid an F for academic dishonesty and it cannot be replaced by retaking the course. An F grade for academic dishonesty is not subject to the grade appeal process. The F grade stays on the transcript permanently and is calculated into the GPA, which could affect the student's academic standing, scholarships, financial aid, or graduation plans. In addition, all incidents of plagiarism and cheating are reported to the Office of Student Conduct and become part of the student's academic record. Potential employers, as well as the directors of graduate and professional programs to which students may apply, can request copies of these records, in which case the academic dishonesty charge will be disclosed.

The consequences for engaging in academic dishonesty are serious. This is why it is so important to understand what constitutes plagiarism and cheating and avoid actions that could be construed as academic dishonesty. If you are not sure whether an action you are contemplating is allowed, either don't do it or check with your instructor first.