From The ESL Student Handbook, by Young Min, PhD
In some cultures, it may not be a big deal at all to borrow someone else’s ideas or words without acknowledging the sources. However, using someone else’s ideas or words without crediting the author is a very serious offense in the US. The protection rules of intellectual property in the US are very strict: plagiarism is regarded as if you stole someone’s property. Although it may not be your intention to steal another’s work, if you used someone’s ideas or words without indicating the original source in your own work, this is considered plagiarism.
You should know that if you used the exact same paper for different courses without letting your instructor know, it is also regarded as an act of plagiarism. If you want to use a paper that you wrote for another course, you should present the paper to the instructor and explain how different your current paper is going to be and which aspects of the previous paper you wanted to further develop for the current project. Please click here to learn more about what constitutes a violation of the University of Washington Student Code. You may also find useful information about plagiarism and academic integrity by visiting our library website.
Plagiarism may result in a failing grade for the assignment and the course, as well as possible disciplinary action, which includes university expulsion. Therefore, it is crucial to improve your understanding about what constitutes an act of plagiarism. One of the easiest ways to check your understanding of plagiarism is to take a self test such as the ones offered here and here.
Source Use & Synthesis Skills
One of the main differences between academic writing and personal writing is that you are required to engage the work of others in your thinking and writing processes more actively in academic writing. Thus, it is crucial that you learn how to use sources—both print and multimedia sources—responsibly and effectively according to the required citation conventions for your paper. You should make a concerted effort to improve your ability to summarize, paraphrase, and quote sources for your college career and beyond. One practical way that can help you integrate other people’s work into your own work is to use reporting verbs (they are also called “signaling verbs” because you are signaling that other people’s works are used in your own writing). Here are some examples:
Check Out Your Citation Manual
One of the first things you should do before you start to work on your assignment is to find out the citation system you are supposed to use for the course. It is critical to learn how to properly cite the sources used in your paper. Check out the latest version of the citation system manual and see how the model paper used the citation rules for both in-text citation and the References (or Works Cited) page. Each citation system (APA, MLA, CM, CBE, etc) updates its citation system rules regularly. Thus, it is essential to check out the latest version of the citation manual for your course to learn the correct rules.