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Policy on Plagiarism & Cheating

Papers submitted must be the work of the student whose name appears on the paper.  Submitting another student's work as your own is cheating.  If you let another student use your work and designate it as his or her original work, you are also subject to penalty.  Don't even consider using another student's work or allowing another student to use your work; the consequences are too high.  This same rule applies to using author's work and submitting it as your own.  In either case, it is cheating.  In recent years, it has become easy to cheat by using materials placed on the Internet or World Wide Web.  College plagiarism policies also apply to cybercheating.


What Is Plagiarism

Plagiarism means the offering of someone else's words, ideas, or conceptions as if they were one's own.  Students are indeed encouraged to draw upon the information and wisdom of others, but in the spirit of scholarship they are always expected to state such indebtedness so that: (a) their own creativity can be justly appreciated and (b) their use of sources, like a scientist's experiment, can be verified by others.  Plagiarism differs from this productive use of sources in that the similarity of the original and the borrowings is very close; it is acknowledged inexactly or not at all; and it shows little or no creative application by the borrower.

Plagiarism is a prime intellectual offense in that the borrower is faking the learning process.  No learning community can thrive if its members counterfeit their achievements, deceive their teachers, and take unfair advantage of their fellow students.  Since the integrity of the whole academic community is thus at stake, the penalties are high. 


How Plagiarism Is Identified

To establish the occurrence of plagiarism, it is not necessary to prove intent.  All students are responsible for knowing or learning what academic honesty is.  At Holy Apostles College & Seminary, plagiarism is considered to have occurred when one or more of the following external evidences is present:

  1. The writing of a student includes word-for-word passages taken without explicit and accurate acknowledgement from a source written by another, provided that the cumulative borrowing includes at least five (5) words.  "Explicit and accurate aknowledgement" means the use of quotation marks and a verifiable citation of source, either in parentheses or by footnote, at the point of indebtedness.  (The mere listing of the source in the bibliography is not enough acknowledgement in itself.)
  2. The writing of a student closely resembles another source in thought, order, or diction (including synonyms) for a cumulative resemblance of one (1) or more sentences, without explicit and accurate acknowledgement as defined in #1 above.
  3. Two or more papers or exams, submitted at the same time, contain resemblances in factual or stylistic detail which are decidedly outside normal probabilities of coincidence.  The likelihood of plagiarism will be deemed even higher if: (a) the students were known to be in close physical proximity at the time of writing, and (b) the factual details involve unusual error.  In the event of such resemblances, all parties involved will be judged responsible. 
  4. A paper or exam contains terminology or information which the student, on questioning, cannot explain. 
  5. A paper or exam contains unusually detailed data for which the student does not produce a verifiable source.
  6. The same principles hold for the inclusion of borrowed diagrams, mathematical statements, tables and pictures.

Note: In citing any sources, the student implicitly guarantees the accuracy and fullness of acknowledgement.  The instructor may therefore properly request the student to bring in those sources so that such guarantees may be confirmed.  Such a request, made routinely in many schools, carries no implied criticism.

If they are unsure about whether their writing has sufficiently acknowledged outside sources, students should consult with their course instructor before submitting final copy.


In an essay, a student needs to define the word "plagiarism" and writes the following two sentences:

According to the Guide of Writing, plagiarism means the offering of someone else's words, ideas or conceptions as if they were one's own.  The Guide notes that students are encouraged to draw upon the information and wisdom of others, but in the spirit of such scholarship they are always expected to state such indebtedness.

Although the student has acknowledged the source of these ideas, the writing is plagiarized.  The author has copied, word for word, the language of the original source and has not used quotation marks to indicate the fact.  Plagiarism is avoided once the original words are enclosed in quotation marks.  Another way to solve this same problem is through a mix of paraphrase and precise quotation, as shown in the following revision:

The Guide to Writing defines plagiarism as presenting others' "words, ideas, or conceptions" as the writer's own.  The Guide encourages the use of outside material, but insists that "the spirit of scholarship" requires students to acknowledge their sources properly. 


Any instructor who has assembled evidence of plagiarism will first offer the student a chance to provide an alternate explanation of the evidence or to admit fault.  If the inference of plagiarism remains, the instructor may choose one of these options, listed in order of increased severity according to the extent and evident deliberateness of the deceit.  The first two options suppose that the plagiarism is not extensive, or that it would not have given the student substantial academic advantage such as full course credit or high course grade, or that the instructor has clear reasons to believe that the plagiarism can be accounted for by ignorance which though subject to discipline is genuine. 


The remaining options would come into play if the plagiarism is extensive; or if it would have given the student substantial academic advantage, or if the student had previously been warned against it.

  1. Reprimanding the student and requiring a revision of the work to eliminate plagiarism or an additional paper, or exam. 
  2. Lowering the grade for the paper or exam (even as far as F) without opportunity to regain the lost credit. 
  3. Directed withdrawal of the student from the course.
  4. Failure of the student for the course.
  5. Referral of evidence to tha Academic Dean for appropriate disciplinary action (which may go so far as suspension or dismissal).


Any sanction beyond #1 above will be reported to the Academic Dean for notation in the student's file.  The record of past plagiarisms for a given student may affect the disposition of any new case.  No notation will appear on the student's permanent transcript, nor will any notation be sent off campus with the student's records.

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