Description of Plagiarism

It is critical that you know what does and does not constitute plagiarism. The following paragraphs explain plagiarism as it applies to scientific writing. In order to take this course you must sign the following contract which states that you now know what constitutes plagiarism, what the penalties are for committing plagiarism and that you promise not to commit plagiarism.  

Plagiarism ranges from copying an entire term paper to inappropriate paraphrasing. Under no circumstances should you ever use another author’s words without both quotations and proper citation. Copying even a substantial part of a sentence without quotations is considered plagiarism even if the source is cited. A citation is intended to alert the reader that the preceding idea or findings were the work of another author. A citation does not indicate that the preceding are the exact words of that author. Only quotation marks are adequate to indicate a direct quotation.  

Please note that direct quotations are not normally used in scientific papers, but that is not because they are replaced by citations. It is because scientific papers are intended to consist of original work as much as possible. Term papers, review articles and even the introductions to laboratory reports, while not reporting original work, should consist of critical evaluation of others work and the synthesis of ideas based on a body of such work. In so much as they report others ideas, they should do so as a summary, not as a collection of other’s words. 

Paraphrasing is acceptable if you use your own words to express another author’s ideas. Paraphrasing is not simply changing one or two words in a sentence or even rearranging that sentence while keeping the same words. Those types of changes constitute plagiarism. Any paraphrased material must cite the original author at the end of the sentence. 

The best way to avoid inadvertent plagiarism is to take notes on each paper you read that will be cited for a written assignment. When you begin to write the assignment, work from the notes, NOT the original papers. When you have completed your assignment be sure to go back to the original papers and compare your work to theirs to make sure you have not accidentally used another’s words. 

 In writing your papers for this class, the use of plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment at a minimum and may result in an immediate "F" for the course. If you have ANY question as to how to properly acknowledge the work of another author (and thus avoid plagiarism) you may ask the class instructor. 
So there is no confusion on these points, I am going to require you to sign the plagiarism agreement below and return it to me when you turn in your paper or before. Failure to turn in the signed agreement will result in an Incomplete for the course.