Sidebar Image
wp home > general info > avoiding plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism

The following statement appears in the Penguin Handbook, Second Custom Edition for Unviersity of Massachusetts Amherst, a required textbook for all students in College Writing (Englwrit 112). Links to additional resources regarding plagiarism, for both students and instructors, can be found at the end of this statement – or by clicking here.

Writing, Plagiarism, and Academic Honesty
at UMass Amherst

Admission to the University of Massachusetts Amherst is an invitation to join a community of scholars—one dedicated to original thinking, discovery, and research. The integrity of these enterprises is essential to the effective functioning of this or any other institution of higher learning. All UMass Amherst students should understand, therefore, that they will be held to the highest standards of academic honesty. They need to respect at all times the intellectual property of others, even as they have the right to expect such respect for their own intellectual property. Failure to meet these standards not only compromises the education process; it also violates the fundamental assumptions upon which this community is based.

The University defines “academic dishonesty” in its document Academic Honesty Policy and Appeal Procedure. The Writing Program requires all students and teachers in Basic and College Writing to become familiar with this statement, including its policies regarding the reporting of academic dishonesty, the types of resolution available, and students’ right to appeal charges of dishonesty.

The type of academic dishonesty most likely to arise in writing courses is usually called “plagiarism,” a term which includes

In the First Year Writing Program, students typically use MLA citation format. Be aware, however, that there are other citation formats; make sure that you follow the conventions appropriate for the course you are in by consulting with your instructor.

As for informal help, most writers share their work with colleagues, friends, and editors. In writing classes, students often participate in peer response groups, teacher conferences, and informal meetings with classmates. If someone gives you words, data, or ideas for a paper, you should cite him or her as a source. When others just give you helpful reactions or suggestions, you do not have to acknowledge their help; but it is gracious to do so, and most writers do.

The larger point is this: Scientists, academics, and indeed almost all writers depend on the work of others as they engage in their own work. Dishonesty destroys trust and undermines the possibility of collegial collaboration. Thus, whenever you use ideas, images, data, or words that are not your own, whether they appear in print, audio, video, or electronic sources, you must acknowledge that use with quotation marks, if needed, and a full citation, and you must list all your sources in a “works cited” page or bibliography. A good, up-to-date handbook will provide you with the knowledge you need to quote and cite properly and avoid inadvertent academic dishonesty.

Remember as well that unintentional plagiarism is still plagiarism. Now that you have received this notice, you cannot plead ignorance. Also note: Every instance of academic dishonesty at UMass Amherst must be reported to the Academic Honesty Board.

For more information and guidance, consult the following sites:

UMass Amherst Dean of Students' website on academic honesty, referred to above

UMass Amherst Faculty Senate's resources on plagiarism, compiled by the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Plagiarism

UMass Amherst First Year Writing Program's Handbook for Instructors (see "Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty")

UMass Amherst Libraries' instruction and information literacy services

UMass Amherst Libraries' plagiarism prevention site(Turnitin)

UMass Amherst Commonwealth College's “Research Program” site

Council of Writing Program Administrators' Best Practices in Defining and Preventing Plagiarism

Becky Howard's "Forget About Policing Plagiarism. Just Teach"

Jack Shafer's "Why Plagiarists Do It. Because They Can"

American History Association’s plagiarism materials

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab's site on avoiding plagiarism

Washington State University's plagiarism information site

Modern Language Association's forum on college students, plagiarism, and the internet

University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries' plagiarism resources

CQ Researcher's Combating Plagiarism (PDF)


UMail / UDrive / Spark / Spire