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Department of Biology

Policy on Academic Integrity

In science there are three major forms of dishonesty: fabricating data, altering data, and plagiarism. Making up or altering data in an investigation may be the most serious offense in science. It is deeply abhorred and severely punished because it undermines public trust in science and scientists and makes it impossible for scientists themselves to rely on others’ findings - the basis of the modern scientific method. Any attempt to pass off fraudulent data as genuine in any context, whether for regular coursework or independent research projects, will be grounds for receiving an "F" in the course.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is representing someone else’s words or work as one’s own. This includes using all or part of someone else’s paper or data and using material or ideas from any source, published or otherwise, without proper credit. What constitutes proper credit?  

Exact Quote

If you use someone’s exact words you must put them in quotation marks and give the source including the author, date, and page number of the source. It is NOT sufficient to just cite the source of the words. If you use someone else’s exact words, even if you provide the source, but fail to enclose the words in quotes you are implying that these are YOUR own words, whether you mean to do so or not.

Paraphrasing

  1. In science (as opposed to some other academic disciplines) quotes are used very sparingly. Instead of using quotes, even properly identified quotes, you must make the effort to put information into your own words – this is called paraphrasing. 
  2. To paraphrase properly and therefore avoid plagiarism you must substantially change the words and the order of ideas from the original. Just changing a few words in a sentence is not sufficient to avoid plagiarism. In other words, there are NO acceptable alternatives or short cuts to basing a paper on your own thinking and putting the information you include in a paper into your own words.

Plagiarism is taken very seriously by academics and scientists and is severely punished because it represents theft of someone else’s hard work or ideas. Stealing someone else’s ideas, data, or words (their intellectual property) is no different than stealing any other kind of property – a watch, a CD player, or a car. Plagiarism is grounds for receiving an "F" in the course.

In addition to the penalties described above, it is the policy of the Biology Department to report all instances of academic dishonesty to the Dean of Students for possible further action including dismissal from the university.

If you are struggling with how to avoid plagiarism here are some places to get help: