Subject Guides

BIOL 113 Class Guide

What is plagiarism?

The Student Academic Honesty Code defines plagiarism as follows:

“Presenting the work of another person as one’s own work (including papers, words, ideas, information, computer code, data, evidence-organizing principles, or style of presentation of someone else taken from the Internet, books, periodicals or other sources). Plagiarism includes:

  • quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing without acknowledgement, even a few phrases;
  • failing to acknowledge the source of either a major idea or ordering principle central to one’s own paper;
  • relying on another person’s data, evidence or critical method without credit or permission;
  • submitting another person’s work as one’s own;
  • using unacknowledged research sources gathered by someone else.”

Richard Wightman Fox, a professor of history at USC, offers students this advice on the issue:

“Don’t claim the ideas or words of someone else as your own. Do use the ideas and words of others to help develop your own. Do have friends read and comment on drafts of your papers. Always give explicit credit when you use anyone’s exact thoughts or language, whether in paraphrasing or quoting them. Give an acknowledgment to someone who’s helped you overall. Intellectual work is about developing and sharing your ideas, and it’s about taking note of and praising other people who have shared good ones with you.”

From his 2004 article “A Heartbreaking Problem of Staggering Proportions,” in Journal of American History 90, no. 4 (p. 1346).
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How can plagiarism be avoided?

Plagiarism can be avoided by citing your sources. Here are some additional tips:

  • When you receive an assignment, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to do research.
  • While doing your research, take careful note of your sources and how you found them (you may need to relocate them later).
  • When you take notes for your papers, write the information in your own words, instead of copying it word for word, or changing just a few words in the sentence. Paraphrasing ensures that you understand the material, and reduces the chance of accidental plagiarism in your final work.
  • If you plan to use a direct quote, copy it exactly and clearly indicate in your notes that it is a quote. Be sure to write down the page number when applicable.
  • Cite your sources as you write. Don't wait until the end of the paper to go back in and add your citations.

If you're unsure of whether you need to cite something, you can consult your instructor, ask a librarian, or make an appointment at the Writing Center for additional assistance.