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Campus Legal - Academic Integrity

Victoria Hayslett, Staff Writer

Sep. 26, 2013

A weekly column by Office of General Counsel Law Clerk, Victoria Hayslett, focusing on legal issues and updates for the Lubbock Christian University community.

student handbook
The LCU Student Handbook covers issues of Academic Integrity, which includes plagiarism.

After almost a month of classes, there is a good chance most students have had a writing assignment due or have one that is due in the near future. Something to be aware of when drafting any writing assignment is plagiarism.

The LCU Student Handbook defines plagiarism as "the presentation of information, content, or wording that originates from another source as one's own." This conduct counts as academic dishonesty, which violates the code of Academic Integrity that all LCU students agree to follow. Plagiarism is only one form of academic dishonesty, and students who engage in this conduct may receive punishments that range from lower grades to dismissal from LCU. The Student Handbook outlines what counts as academic dishonesty, the process for determining whether or not it has occurred, the consequences and the student's right to appeal any decisions.

So how can you be sure your work doesn't include plagiarism? One way is to make sure to cite any ideas, quotes, or words to the work you pulled them from. Another good idea is to try to put these things into your own words and avoid direct quoting as much as possible, just remember that even if you paraphrase you still need to provide proper citations! A source I find useful is www.plagiarism.org. This website has easy to understand information on different types of plagiarism, the meaning of plagiarism, and ways to prevent plagiarism from occurring. It also has helpful links to websites that outline the different citation methods such as MLA, APA and Chicago. These are important as different professors require different citation styles.

Plagiarizing someone else's work might not be a crime, but you could end up wrongfully using so much of a certain work that it becomes an 'appropriation' of their work and you could be liable for copyright infringement. If an author believes you have infringed upon their rights they can take you to court and try to receive damages from you for using their work unlawfully. There are numerous things the author would have to prove in order to win their case against you, but even if they didn't win, going to court is extremely costly and the case would be public so people would know you had been accused of copyright infringement.

Aside from legal or academic ramifications something else to think about when it comes to plagiarism is how calling someone else's work your own affects the actual creator of the work. Someone worked long and hard on those articles, books, and other creative works. It is unfair to completely ignore their efforts and try to claim their work as yours. That article could be somebody's livelihood or just a work of passion, but either way not acknowledging their commitment to their project is wrong.

It is so important to remember the rules when it comes to plagiarism and make sure that anything you write is your own work and properly cite any information you've taken from someone else's work. Although there are serious consequences that can come from plagiarism, try not to stress out about it and worry unnecessarily. As long as you take steps to ensure all your work is your own and any work that isn't yours is properly used and cited you should have no problems with plagiarism. If you're still feeling unsure on what does or does not constitute plagiarism, all you have to do is go in and talk to your professor about how to recognize it ... I'm sure they will be more than happy to help.

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