Plagiarism is the most serious academic offense a student or faculty member can commit. It is the passing off of another’s ideas or words as one’s own; in effect, it is theft. Plagiarism undercuts the trust that is essential in any community of learning. The plagiarist shows disrespect not only for those from whom she steals and for those to whom she presents the plagiarized work, but also for herself. She is, in effect, saying that she is incapable of doing her own work, or that she is too lazy to give proper credit to those from whom she borrows.
For all of these reasons, Saint Mary’s College maintains an academic honesty policy, which can be found on pp. 62-64 of the 2011-2012 College Bulletin, or online. Accordingly, I treat incidents of plagiarism very seriously. At minimum, a student whose work is discovered to be plagiarized will fail the assignment in question. Truly egregious or repeated instances of plagiarism may result in failure for the course, not just the assignment. In keeping with the College’s policy, I will report instances of plagiarism to Academic Affairs.
It is every student’s responsibility to be aware of what plagiarism is and to be familiar with how to document sources correctly. (Problems with citation style and/or formatting do not constitute plagiarism. We can work together on such issues. As long as, when you’ve borrowed words or ideas from someone else, you indicate that and point to the source from which you’ve borrowed, you have not plagiarized.) Both our own Writing Center and the OWL at Purdue are excellent resources, and can provide you with assistance in developing your writing skills as well as assistance with proper documentation. If ever you are in doubt as to whether your paper contains plagiarized elements, please ask prior to submitting it. Given reasonable advance notice, I am always happy to go over a draft with you, and to answer any questions you might have about how to cite your sources properly. Never let the pressures of academia lead you into dishonesty. Character and self-respect are far more important than what may seem more obvious measures of success.