What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when a writer uses someone else’s language, ideas, or another original (not common) knowledge without acknowledging its source (adapted from the WPA - Council of Writing Program Administrators).

It can also occur:

  • when the writer acknowledges sources but not in an appropriate manner.
  • when the writer, in attempting to paraphrase or summarize, does not use his or her own language and writing style to relay what a source has said.

There are many reasons why students plagiarize.

  • poor time management
  • weak research, study, and critical analysis skills
  • unfamiliar with assessment expectations
  • weak language skills
  • new culture

Memorial University follows a list of academic offences. Plagiarism can occur intentionally or unintentionally, but in either case, the repercussions can be severe (University Calendar Sections and, see also School of Graduate Studies Regulation 4.12 Academic Misconduct).

Plagiarism, whether intended or not, is considered to be a kind of stealing. In an academic context, it also prevents both the writer and the reader from seeing the writer’s actual position in what is really an ongoing conversation.

It is important to note that faculties, departments, and individuals apply varying degrees of scrutiny to their readings of students’ texts. However, our advice is to err on the side of caution.