Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the uncredited use of someone else’s ideas or words and phrases. Whether it occurs inadvertently, through carelessness, or deliberately in an effort to mislead the reader, it is a serious academic offence. Plagiarized assignments are normally given a zero and a notation is entered on the student’s record. Repeated acts of plagiarism may lead to more serious academic penalties, including loss of credit, suspension from the university, or expulsion.

Uncredited means that proper acknowledgement of the source of ideas or words has not been given. For example:

1. Jesus was neither broker nor mediator but, somewhat paradoxically, the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or between humanity and itself.

Plagiarism. Apart from the first word, ‘Jesus’, this is stolen from John Dominic Crossan’s The Historical Jesus (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991), 422.

2. Jesus was neither broker nor mediator but the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or between humanity and itself.

Plagiarism. This merely abridges Crossan’s sentence. It is still Crossan’s sentence and his idea.

3. Jesus was not a broker or a mediator but, paradoxically, the one who proclaimed that neither should exist between humans and God or between humans and themselves.

Plagiarism. This merely substitutes ‘one who proclaimed’ for ‘announcer’, ‘humans’ for ‘humanity’, and ‘God’ for ‘divinity’. It is still Crossan’s sentence and his idea.

 

4. Crossan thinks that Jesus was neither broker nor mediator but, somewhat paradoxically, the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or between humanity and itself (1991, 422).

Plagiarism. Although this credits Crossan, it uses his words verbatim, and misleadingly makes it appear as though the statement is the paper writer’s description or paraphrase of Crossan. No quotation marks = plagiarism.

Plagiarism is avoided by enclosing the sentences or phrases in quotation marks and providing a footnote or an in-text citation. E.g.,

5.. Jesus “was neither broker nor mediator but, somewhat paradoxically, the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or between humanity and itself.”1

________

1 John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991), 422.

Not plagiarism

OR

 

6. According to Crossan Jesus “was neither broker nor mediator but, somewhat paradoxically, the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or between humanity and itself” (1991, 422).

Not plagiarism

The bibliography must then contain a full bibliographical reference to Crossan’s book.

Ideas or words and phrases” means that ideas that are peculiar to an author must be acknowledged. Any use of her or his words, phrases, or sentences must be acknowledged with the use of quotation marks and a footnote or in-text reference.

 

7. Thus I conclude that Jesus was not a mediator between God and humanity, nor was he a broker, that is, one who brings humanity to God. It seems paradoxical, but Jesus proclaimed that neither mediators nor brokers should exist at all between God and humans.

Plagiarism. This is (a) theft of Crossan’s idea, and (b) theft of the basic structure of Crossan’s sentence. It makes it appear as though the paper-writer has come up with this idea on her/his own.

 

8. Thus I agree with Crossan that Jesus was not a mediator between God and humanity as has been traditionally held by Christians. Jesus proclaimed a kingdom of non-mediated, non-brokered access to God.1

____________

1 See John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1991), 422.

Not Plagiarism. This paraphrases Crossan’s idea without stealing his sentence structure, and it gives adequate credit to the originator of the idea.

When do you need to acknowledge sources?

  You must acknowledge any phrases or sentences that exist in the publications (books, articles, lectures, websites) belonging to others.

  You must acknowledge the ideas of others.

  You do not need to acknowledge common ideas. For example:

Mark is one of the sources of Matthew.

Common knowledge. This is common knowledge; you do not need to quote an authority.

The Two Document hypothesis is held by most scholars of Christian origins.

            Common knowledge. No footnote required.

 

If you are in doubt as to whether a particular idea is common knowledge or not, it is better to acknowledge your source than to risk the charge of plagiarism.

 

Plagiarism is an ‘absolute liability’ offence like speeding. It makes no difference whether you intended to speed, whether you were careless or not paying attention, or tired, or in a hurry.

The University of Toronto's policy on  plagiarism assumes that all students have made themselves aware of the description and penalties for plagariarism; therefore, it is not a defence to claim 'I did not know that this was plagiarism'. If words, phrases, sentences, or ideas belonging to someone else are found in your work, you are guilty of plagiarism. Penalties for first offences are normally a zero for the offending assignment, and a zero for an assignment of equal weight. Penalties for second offences can include loss of academic credit, suspension from the university, or explusion.

 

For other examples of plagiarism and means to avoid it, see the website prepared by the Humanities Department of Capital Community College (http://webster.commnet.edu/mla/plagiarism.shtml).