Plagiarism Policy

The Random House Dictionary defines plagiarism as follows: “the appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and thoughts of another author, and representation of them as one’s original work.” Clearly, submitting a paper written by someone else, for pay or otherwise, is plagiarism. The other most obvious form of plagiarism is copying directly from printed materials without using quotation marks and/or proper documentation. Note that even if you give the source of a quotation, it is plagiarism if you do not use quotation marks: you are claiming that someone else’s words are yours.

Similar to this is maintaining the sentence structure of the source material while merely substituting synonyms for an occasional word or phrase, or changing the order of sentences around a little while retaining the source’s wording. A less obvious form, but one equally serious, is summarizing or paraphrasing the ideas of an author without citing the author as the source. Additionally, a fourth type of plagiarism that students must be aware of is using an editor – whether a friend, family member, or tutor – beyond the point of propriety. In this instance, the paper does not reflect the knowledge, voice, and/or style of the student author.

Improper or inadequate documentation of sources will lower the grade on an assignment. However, plagiarism is a serious offence, as theft of ideas is no different from theft of tangible objects, which the Bible condemns (Lev. 19:13a; Psa. 15:10; Jer. 1:26; Eph. 4:28; I Pet. 4:15), and it therefore carries more severe penalties: certainly failure of the assignment itself, and possibly failure of the course or even suspension or expulsion from the college. In order to protect both students and faculty members, the following procedures have been set in place.
  1. Proven Plagiarism. In cases where the printed source of the plagiarized work is available as proof of plagiarism, the following steps will be taken:
    1. The instructor will determine if the plagiarism is intentional or inadvertent. This assessment is based NOT on the student’s declaration of motive, but on the extent and type of plagiarism and the instruction available to the student concerning documentation of sources.
    2. If the plagiarism is determined to be intentional (substantive work from an outside source submitted as original), a notice of violation of academic integrity will be sent to the Academic Vice-President’s office. If there is a record of previous violations, the student will either fail the class (one previous violation) or will be suspended or expelled from the college (two previous violations). If there is no previous violation, the consequences are as given in (1c) below.
    3. If the plagiarism is the student’s first college violation or is determined to be inadvertent (mostly original work by the student with minor plagiarized portions), the student will receive an F on the assignment; he may be required, however, to rewrite the assignment in order to be eligible to pass the class. This is because in some courses students are required to complete all major assignments: because a plagiarized assignment is not the student’s work, the assignment must still be completed by the student for eligibility to pass the class. Therefore, rewriting the assignment may be a requirement for the course work to be complete and the student to be eligible to pass. Note that if this requirement applies, failure of the course is not because of the plagiarism but because major course requirements have not been met. (Notification of inadvertent plagiarism will not be sent to the Academic Office.)
  2. Suspected Plagiarism. In cases where the instructor strongly suspects plagiarism but does not have a printed source from which to prove the violation, the following steps will be taken:
    1. The instructor will indicate his suspicion and the reasons for it to the student, informing him that the assignment will receive an F.
    2. The student may appeal the instructor’s decision to the English Department.
    3. The Department Chair will have the student write a similar assignment under strict supervision. (In cases of assignments about works of literature, the topic assigned will be on the same work that the student explored in the original assignment.)
    4. The Department’s designated readers will determine if the second paper parallels the first in sophistication of ideas, knowledge, syntax, punctuation, voice, diction, and style.
    5. If the designated readers agree that the original assignment does not reflect the work of the student, the assignment will receive an F, and the student may be required to rewrite it for the reasons given in (1c) above. On the other hand, if the readers agree that the two assignments have been written by the same person, the instructor will award appropriate credit for the original.