College courses require that students and instructors be honest. With a candid exchange of ideas and opinions, students and teachers will grow as individuals and as a class. Therefore, the work students submit must be their own -- with their own strengths, weaknesses, ideas and writing, just as the comments instructors make about that work must be academically honest.
Failure to adhere to these principles will lead students to plagiarism. Plagiarism, taken from the Latin word plagiarius, literally means “kidnapping.” More specifically, plagiarism occurs when writers pass off work ideas, opinions, wording, or anything else that comes from other sources (books, essays, magazines, newspapers, electronic media, films, tutors, friends and relatives) as their own. Even material rewritten as paraphrases or summaries must be documented appropriately to the assignment and to the teacher's directions.
However, students may receive advice about their writing. The reader of a paper may identify a problem, but that person may not correct the problem. For example, a reader may say that the punctuation or sentence structure of a passage is faulty, that misspellings are evident, or that the organization of a paragraph is defective. The reader of an essay may not, however, rewrite an unsuccessful sentence or paragraph. Nor may that person correct the grammar, punctuation or spelling. Of course, the person who is helping may not dictate the essay or edit the work in any way. When students are in doubt about the assistance they receive, they should refer to their handbooks, then do their own correcting. Totally independent work is always the safest procedure.
Plagiarizing is dishonest and a form of cheating. Consequently, plagiarized essays will receive an “F,” or a zero, at the discretion of the instructor. In addition, such a practice may prevent students from passing a course and may result in other disciplinary action.
Revised and copyrighted © by the English Department of the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, in August 1997.