Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

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1 1 Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty Students in psychology courses are often unfamiliar with the definitions of plagiarism and academic dishonesty that are used at the University of New Brunswick, as well as the related rules for referencing the work of others. Nonetheless, all students are held responsible for following those rules. The Psychology Department prefers to teach students these definitions and rules so that students do not suffer the severe penalties for acts of plagiarism and other academic offences. The University of New Brunswick Undergraduate Calendar clearly states the university s official definition, and cited from Section IX: Academic Offences, subsection A: A. PLAGIARISM (from pages of Undergraduate Calendar) Plagiarism includes: 1. quoting verbatim or almost verbatim from a source (such as copyrighted material, notes, letters, business entries, computer materials, etc.) without acknowledgment; 2. adopting someone else s line of thought, argument, arrangement, or supporting evidence (such as, for example, statistics, bibliographies, etc.) without indicating such dependence; 3. submitting someone else s work, in whatever form (film, workbook, artwork, computer materials, etc.) without acknowledgment; 4. knowingly representing as one s own work any idea of another. NOTE: In courses which include group work, the instructor must define and warn against plagiarism in group work. Unless an act of plagiarism is identified clearly with an individual student or students, a penalty may be imposed on all members of the group. The University of New Brunswick also notes a related academic offence in Section IX: Academic Offences, Subsection B: Other Academic Offences: 5. Submitting identical or substantially similar work for one course [emphasis added] or program of study, which has been or is being submitted for another course or program of study, without the prior express knowledge and approval of the instructors. Penalties for Deliberate Plagiarism What Happens if You Plagiarize? In a case of deliberate plagiarism, the penalties are: First Offence: If the student does not appeal, or if, on appeal, the Committee upholds the instructor s decision: 1. A notation will be placed on the student s transcript of academic record concerning the academic offence. The length of time the notation appears on the student s transcript of academic record is to be decided when the penalty is imposed and will depend on the severity of the offence.

2 2 2. The student may be required to submit a satisfactory and genuine piece of work to replace the one involving plagiarism. If the assignment is not resubmitted or is unsatisfactory, the student will receive a grade of F (zero) in the course. NOTE: If this penalty is assessed, the period of time allowed for the submission of the work will be determined by the Registrar in consultation with the faculty member making the charge, and, where appropriate, the Committee. 3. The student will receive a grade of F (zero) on the piece of work and, depending on the severity of the offence, may receive a grade of F for the course. 4. Other penalties as outlined in penalties for Other Academic Offences may be imposed. Subsequent Offence: In cases where the Committee considers that the student has plagiarized again: 1. The student will receive a grade of F in the course and a notation of the academic offence will appear on the student s transcript of record. The length of time the notation appears on the student s transcript of academic record is to be decided when the penalty is imposed. 2. Other penalties as outlined in penalties for Other Academic Offence may be imposed. For further information on procedures for dealing with cases of plagiarism, students should refer to the regulations found on pages of the Undergraduate Calendar. Special Considerations for Students of Psychology The Department of Psychology requires that, in every piece of written work, students reference all material that they have consulted. Referencing is not equivalent to providing a bibliographystyle list at the end of a paper. Psychology students must use APA Formatting, as found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001). Here are some useful tips to consider: 1. Referencing Within a Paper References must be cited for each and every piece of information that is not common knowledge. In other words, every fact, piece of information, idea or theory, that did not originate in your own head must be referenced by using the standard APA format of: (author s last name, year), as in Example 1. This format may change somewhat with the style of sentence (Example 2). This referencing is the first step towards academic honesty. Example 1: As one psychologist says, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action (Bandura, 1977, p. 22). Example 2: According to the social learning theory of Bandura (1977), students may not learn well about academic honesty if they are simply punished for their mistakes; rather, most human behavior is

3 3 learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action (p.22). 2. How to Write Up Information Taken From Your References Some students understand the basics of referencing their sources, but do not know how to use that information. At the university level, students should aim to be synthesizing the information they gather from their sources. In other words, students create their own, original thesis or idea (e.g., Students will learn best about plagiarism by observing how to properly reference ), and use reference material only to provide support for their arguments. Reference material should rarely be used as the thesis/idea, or as the bulk of the content. Obviously, if you are providing a biography of someone, you will need to reference quite a lot. However, let us consider different ways of writing up information taken from your references: a) Quoting Verbatim. (Word for word, a phrase or even a whole paper is identical to something written by someone else); b) Quoting Nearly Verbatim. (Almost every word is the same as in an original document, perhaps with every fourth word changed a bit, etc); c) Paraphrasing. (Putting the ideas into your own words, but not creating any new arguments); and d) Synthesizing. (Creating your own argument and supporting it with your reference material). All of these methods require referencing within the body of your paper. A) Quoting Verbatim Students may choose to quote a source when that source has said something particularly well. Quotations may also lend credibility to your research. Any time something is quoted verbatim, it must be referenced with the author s name, year of publication, and a page number or perhaps the number of the paragraph if there are no pages identified. A student must never write a paper that is mainly or even heavily quoted verbatim if they want to get a passing grade: papers are meant to be written by the student, not by her or his references. When students quote a source verbatim, without using quotation marks and proper referencing, they are plagiarizing. As one psychologist says, Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new

4 4 for behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide action (Bandura, 1977, p. 22).* *(note how the APA formatting changes when a quotation is more than 3 lines long) B) Quoting Nearly Verbatim Students sometimes try to paraphrase or do not understand that quoting nearly verbatim is very risky. If they decide to put this nearly verbatim quotation in quotation marks, they are misquoting their source. If they do not decide to put this nearly verbatim quotation in quotation marks, they are plagiarizing. Students are well-advised to never quote nearly verbatim. Learning would be very hard, and dangerous, if people had to depend on the effects of their own behaviours to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned by observing what people model: by observing others one learns how new behaviors are performed, and later this coded information is a guide for action (Bandura, 1977). C) Paraphrasing Some students may paraphrase the ideas of others as long as they very carefully reference the material. A student may choose to paraphrase so that she or he can communicate a lot of information that is not easily synthesized, or would no longer be as useful in synthesized form (e.g., when you want to describe, in great detail, something taken from a source). Page numbers are not required for paraphrased information: only for quotations. As Bandura (1977) explains in his social learning theory, most people learn best by observing someone else performing a behaviour, rather than my being punished when they make a mistake. D) Synthesizing Students should aim to synthesize the material they use in their research. This means that they create a thesis/idea/position, and they use their references (sources) only to support their argument. The ideas are the students, and sources add to the argument. Example 1: In this hand-out, we are using the assumption about learning through observation, taken from Bandura s social learning theory (1977), to teach students about plagiarism and academic dishonesty. In other words, this hand-out teaches about referencing by sharing examples of proper and improper referencing.

5 5 Example 2: According to Bandura s social learning theory (1977), students will likely find that they can learn about plagiarism and academic dishonesty most easily by seeing how proper referencing is done, rather than by being punished for their mistakes. (Note that these examples use the referenced material about learning, and then apply it to students and their learning about plagiarism; thus, the synthesis synthesizes the learning theory information and how it applies to students) 3. Frequency of Referencing or What Should I Reference? Students in psychology courses sometimes wonder, when is enough, enough? The source of any piece of information that is not originally the student s own idea, or not common knowledge (e.g., the sky is blue) must be acknowledged that is referenced. In other words, if students are writing the biography of someone, they will likely have a reference or more for every single sentence. One reference placed at the end of a paragraph is inadequate. There are two exceptions to this rule. First, if a certain piece of information was found in more than one source, the student may reference only the most relevant source. Second, if an entire section is going to be based on, or use information taken from one source, the student may very carefully acknowledge this at the beginning of that section. Bandura s social learning theory (1977) presents several assumptions about learning, which will be explored briefly. First, Bandura suggests that punishment is not likely to provide the best or most enjoyable learning. Second, individuals may learn best by observing what others model. Therefore, students who need to learn about plagiarism and academic dishonesty may find that they learn most easily (and enjoyably) by observing how referencing is properly done. Golden Rule For Referencing: If In Doubt, Reference. Prepared by: Sarah MacAulay, University of New Brunswick, References American Psychological Association (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5 th ed). Washington, D.C. : American Psychological Association.

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