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Academic Integrity

Why Document Your Sources?

It is very important to document your sources. Here are a few reasons why:

Strengthens your work/writing - Citing a source through paraphrasing or quoting demonstrates that you have researched and incorporated your findings into your own argument. You also demonstrate that you are aware of other academic opinions on the topic.

Documenting sources shows respect for intellectual property - Citing shows respect for the creators of ideas and arguments honoring thinkers and their intellectual property.

Citing is a service to the reader - Citing enables the reader to locate the sources of information and pursue further reading or investigation on the topic. 

Serious consequences if you do not document your sources - Any violation of academic honesty can result in serious consequences, ranging from a written disciplinary warning to expulsion from the university, depending on the extent and nature of the offence.  Within the academic community plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are seen as very serious offences.

Any one or more of the following actions may be imposed on a student who has violated the ideal of academic integrity:
  • After confronting a student with the evidence, a faculty member may lower a student's grade, grant no credit, assign a grade of F for the particular test or assignment, or give a grade of F for the course in question.
  • The Vice President for Academic Affairs may impose academic warning, academic probation, academic suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. Any such action may be reflected on the student's transcript.
  • Should a violation under this policy include violations of the Student Code of Conduct, further action may be taken according to the operating guidelines of that policy.

When to Cite

To avoid committing plagiarism, you must acknowledge the source of anything included in your submitted assignment that is not your own work.

There are two basic rules: 

1.  If you directly use someone else′s words, etc., use quotation marks and give a complete reference.

2.  Give a complete reference if you use someone else's: 

    • Idea, theory or opinion
    • Music, drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic or technical work
    • Tables, graphs or any other graphic element
    • Facts and information that are not generally known
    • Unusual or distinctive phrases, specialized terms, computer codes, quantitative data
    • Spoken or written words

When Not to Cite

Your own ideas do not have to be referenced. Anything that you conclude from your research or that you think up on your own counts as your own idea.

The exception to this is work that you have previously submitted in any course in the past. This must be referenced like any other source.

Common knowledge does not have to be referenced. If the information meets the following criteria, it can usually be considered common knowledge:

  • It appears in several sources without reference.
  • It is not controversial. This means the information is generally considered as fact. (i.e. The earth orbits around the Sun)

If your idea is similar to another author's, make it clear in your writing that you thought of this idea on your own, but you later discovered it in another source (example: "Similar conclusions are found in.")

If it is part of your thesis or main arguments, or it is the basis of your research, it must be referenced. If you have any doubts as to whether the information constitutes common knowledge, cite the source or consult your professor.

Incorporating Another's Ideas

Direct Quotation: When incorporating another person's exact words into your work use a direct quotation. Be sure to place an opening quotation (“) when beginning the quote and a closing quotation (”) when ending the quote.

Paraphrasing or Summarizing: A paraphrase or summary uses your own words and sentence structure to explain someone else's idea or information obtained from another source. You do not need to use quotation marks, however, you must acknowledge the originating source in your work with a citation. Failing to acknowledge a paraphrase implies that the writing represents your own original idea.

The video below is 1.04 minutes long by Kevin deLaplante, Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Iowa State University, called "Avoiding Plagiarism: What Do I Need to Cite?":