Plagiarism and Academic Integrity at Barnard College

What is Plagiarism?

That depends on who is defining it. A Google search on "plagiarism" will net over a million hits; many of those are academic web sites with goals much like this one. Each one, however, defines plagiarism a bit differently. At its simplest, plagiarism is the use of another individual’s words or ideas without proper attribution. As noted in the English Department’s "Guide to the Preparation of Papers," the term derives from the Latin plagiare, "to kidnap" (9). Plagiarism is thus most easily understood as "intellectual theft" (Gibaldi 30). There are, however, several different kinds of plagiarism, both intentional and unintentional.1

  • The most obvious kind of plagiarism is outright intellectual fraud. This is the submission of another person’s work as your own, or the invention of false sources or data.
  • A more subtle form of plagiarism is the appropriation of another individual’s ideas, whether intentionally or unintentionally. For more information on originality and your academic work, see The Use of Sources.
  • A third form of plagiarism is the failure to "distinguish quote from paraphrase," or the failure to properly cite and document your sources. These problems are exacerbated by sloppy note-taking practices.
  • Yet another form of plagiarism is "mosaic plagiarism," or the cutting-and-pasting of information from web pages or other documents into your own work.
  • Other instances of plagiarism include unequal or undocumented collaboration between students, the submission of term papers written by others or downloaded from internet paper mills, or re-submitting a paper from another course without the explicit permission of both instructors.

Plagiarism is often the result of poor time management, or of ignorance of proper documentation and citation techniques. You are encouraged not only to plan in advance, but to consult your professors, this web site, the English Department’s "Guide to the Preparation of Papers," the MLA Handbook and the Bedford Rules for Writers for advice regarding all aspects of your writing and research. Plagiarism can be avoided through careful note-taking, meticulous documentation, and a commitment to academic honesty and integrity. For more definitions and explanations of plagiarism, see:

What is Academic Integrity?

The Center for Academic Integrity defines academic integrity "as a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility" (par. 1). 2 As a Barnard student, it is your responsibility to represent yourself and your work honestly at all times. Failure to do so violates not only the Barnard Honor Code, but also the trust of the intellectual community of which you are a part. It is an act of disrespect not only towards your instructors, but towards your fellow students and the College as a whole. According to the Council of Writing Program Administrators, plagiarism and acts of academic dishonesty not only "devalue the institution and the degree it offers; [they hurt] the inquirer, who has avoided thinking independently and has lost the opportunity to participate in [the] broader social conversations" the institution seeks to encourage (4-5). 3 The intellectual exploration and innovation that Barnard seeks to foster cannot be maintained without a commitment to academic honesty and integrity on the part of all members of the College community. For more information about academic integrity, see:

1. The information that follows is paraphrased from the following sources:

  • Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th ed. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1999.
  • Student Writing Services: Avoiding Plagiarism. 2004. Writing Teaching Services, Tufts University. 14 June 2004.

2. Center for Academic Integrity. Fundamental Values Project. 2003. 21 June 2004.

3. Council of Writing Program Administrators. Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Jan. 2003. 14 June 2004.