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Michigan State University

Geological & Earth Sciences Research Guide: Citing v. Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.” (From the MSU Office of the Ombudsperson)


From Dr. Freidhoff (posted in D2L): "In this course, you are required to interact in text-only media including discussion boards. In these contexts, you need to have a heightened awareness of what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. I’d like to help you better understand plagiarism so you can ensure that all of your posted and written work is original, gives proper credit, and demonstrates your competence in pathophysiology.

I have had several students in the past who earned grade penalties for plagiarizing while stating they didn’t know that they were plagiarizing. The excuse of, “I didn’t know it was plagiarism” is not acceptable. Plagiarism, in any form, is entirely unacceptable, especially in a health professions program where your written work demonstrates your competence and understanding. By choosing to lift text word for word without using quotes or by paraphrasing inappropriately, you do not show that you understand the course material or that you are able to explain these concepts to a patient.  At its core, this issue is one of professionalism, competence, and patient safety.

One of the most common “errors” is writing an inappropriate paraphrase. If you are rearranging sentences or replacing words with synonyms, you are plagiarizing even if you provide the reference for your work. Many students find that the best way to prevent the inappropriate paraphrase is to close your book and lecture notes while writing your ideas or typing your post. Of course, any phrase lifted word for word (even a string of a few words) and not quoted is plagiarism.

Before posting any work related to course content, please review the following sites. You may find the quizzes and examples (especially those of paraphrasing) to be particularly helpful."

When Do I Cite?

Are you confused about when to cite? This video will help clear up your questions!

Direct link to "When do I cite?" on MSU Mediaspace

Video credit: Megan Kudzia

Need Help?

The MSU Writing Center can help when you're writing a paper or working on class projects that invovle writing (including questions about citing). Schedule an appointment online.

You can also get help from a librarian in person, via e-mail, phone, or chat. The chat option is available 24/7!

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