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Plagiarism, Academic Integrity, Academic Alerts… What does this all mean?

You may have seen the word ‘plagiarism’ in your course syllabus or heard your instructors talk about it, but maybe you’re not sure what it means. Plagiarism involves using someone else’s ideas, words or thoughts and presenting them as your own.

In your courses, you may be asked to complete a researched assignment, and you will have to consult online articles, books or journals to support your arguments. However, if you use any information or data from those sources, you must ensure you are giving the original authors credit for their ideas. It’s important to be honest about where the information in your assignments came from because you are taking someone else’s hard work and using it to get a grade in your class. If you didn’t do the research yourself, tell your readers who did it and where to find it!

When you provide citations, your instructor can look at your original source, evaluate your analysis, and give you helpful feedback and a grade. But if you don’t cite, you are claiming the work or research of others as your own, and this is very problematic!

Understand that plagiarism is not always intentional.

If you forget to cite, this is also plagiarism. An easy way to avoid getting in trouble is to cite your sources as you write. Even if you’re taking notes or outlining your assignment, include citations so that you don’t forget. Don’t wait till you finished your 5-page essay to add in every citation. You might accidentally omit some of them.

Different subjects will require a different citation style. Find out which style your instructor requires you to use and download the citations style guide from the Writing & Learning Centre website or Canvas course to learn how to cite. We offer citations workshops at the beginning of each term. Completing this workshop may be mandatory for some of your courses — be sure to check with your instructor.

Aside from giving credit for your research, doing your own work is just as important to your learning. Doing your homework or writing a test isn’t always fun, but there’s no shortcut to success! Don’t just copy and paste from the internet or use a translator. Don’t reuse someone else’s paper (including your own. This is called self-plagiarism!). Don’t hire someone else to help you do your homework. The consequences of plagiarism or cheating can be very severe. You will get an Academic Alert, which may get you suspended or expelled.

It’s not difficult to avoid plagiarism—just do your own work and remember to cite your sources. If you still have questions, here are some resources to help you:

Speak with your instructor during office hours

Book a one-on-one tutoring appointment: Visit the Writing & Learning Centre

Submit your paper for written feedback: Visit WriteAway

Get research tips and database help: Visit the Library

Deal with stress and anxiety: Speak with the Health & Wellness Counsellor