What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when a writer fails to properly acknowledge that she has borrowed ideas, data, words, or writing structures from someone else. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. Students who commit plagiarism are in violation of the Wellesley College Honor Code, and they may be disciplined by the Honor Code Council.

In most of the papers you write at Wellesley you will use sources, which means that you will cite someone else’s ideas, argument, research, or language. This is what you are expected to do as students and scholars. However, when you use someone else’s ideas, argument, research, or language, you must explicitly credit your source.

To credit your source properly, you must do two things: 1) make it clear to your reader that you are using a source and the manner in which you are using it; and 2) provide details about that source by using one of the common systems for documenting sources, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, or CSE. You’ll find guidelines for those systems on the Wellesley College Library citation guide.

If you are ever in doubt about whether you need to cite a source, or how you should credit it, be sure to talk to your professor or lab instructor. You can also seek advice from the writing tutors or members of the Honor Code Council. In all cases, students are responsible for knowing what plagiarism is and how to avoid committing it.

Common Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarism usually takes one of these forms:

  • A person submits, under her own name, a paper written entirely by someone else.
  • A writer takes full credit for a paper written in collaboration with others.
  • A writer copies parts of a paper written by someone else, and patches those parts into her own work without proper attribution.
  • A writer copies the structure of phrases or passages, substituting synonyms or similar examples for the originals.
  • A writer makes use of another person’s idea, argument, or data without properly crediting that person for the idea, argument, or data.

All of these types of plagiarism can be the result of a deliberate effort to deceive. But the last three types can also occur if a student misunderstands how to incorporate sources properly.


Examples and More Help

Coming soon!