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COMM 318: Professional Communication: Citations & Plagiarism

Citation Guides @ Western Libraries

Plagiarism Definition

Plagiarism is presenting as one's own in whole or in part the argument, language, creations, conclusions, or scientific data of another without explicit acknowledgement.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Using another person's written or spoken words.

  • Using information from a World Wide Web site, CD-ROM or other electronic sources.

  • Using statistics, graphs, charts and facts without acknowledging the source of the ideas.

  • Paraphrasing, which is using someone else's argument without acknowledging the source by imitating the argument using other words.

Understanding Why Plagiarism Matters

Plagiarism is “like lip-synching to someone else's voice

and accepting the applause and rewards for yourself.” 1

People in universities- -students and teachers, especially- -can only do their work in the atmosphere in which ideas are freely exchanged and the evaluation of intellectual effort is not clouded by suspicions about where it came from. Just as students have some claim to the right to be told the truth in the classroom by teachers who know what they are talking about, teachers have a right to assume that work submitted under a student's name is indeed the product of the student's honest effort.

All original insight in a scholarly community occurs in the context of the creative work of other people. As Sir Isaac Newton observed when he wrote to Robert Hooke, “If I have seen further [sic]... it is standing on the shoulders of Giants.” 2

A paper with a comprehensive bibliography shows that the writer is conversant with the intellectual context in which he or she is operating.


1 Purdue University 1995-2000. OWL: Online Writing Available [Online]: [1 March 2001]

2 Newton, Sir Isaac. “Letter to Robert Hooke, 5 February 1675/76.”  In Familiar Quotations, 16th ed.  Ed.  John Bartlett. Boston: Little, Brown, 1992, 281.

University Resources Related to Academic Integrity