Skip To Content

Athabasca University


Knowing how to recognize plagiarism and avoiding committing it are fundamental to credible scholarship and effective essay writing. We expect students to practice the accepted conventions of the Modern Language Association surrounding appropriate documentation and citation in all their work and have prepared the MLA Documentation Guide. If you have any questions about the Guide or the following information on plagiarism, contact your tutor or course coordinator.

All of the following information on plagiarism is quoted directly from the Athabasca University Calendar:

Academic Honesty: Recognising Plagiarism

In order to avoid representing the ideas, facts or phrasing of others as your own, you must learn to recognize plagiarism. It is common for novice researchers to commit plagiarism without even knowing it. The result can be very serious if you plagiarise, whether intentionally or not. You will jeopardize your learning, risk failing and even expulsion. Moreover, you will undermine the mutual trust upon which educational institutions rest.

Here are three examples of plagiarism:

  1. If you fail to indicate that material is quoted by enclosing the material in quotation marks.
  2. If you do not acknowledge the source of a direct quotation within the text of the paper, in footnotes, on the Works Cited or Reference page, or if you do not identify the correct source of a quotation.
  3. If you included paraphrased or summarized information (that is not generally accepted as "common knowledge") and do not acknowledge its source.

Academic Honesty: What is Original Work?

Students and researchers are often understandably confused about academic honesty because they realise that if they give credit for every single idea that is not original, then their papers would simply be a list of citations. For example, in a paper if I refer to Intellectual Honesty, I am using a generally accepted expression, (common knowledge) and I would probably use wording that many others have used when writing about the subject. I do not have to cite the very first person who ever used this expression. How do I distinguish between occasions when I must attribute ideas to others and occasions when I do not?

One situation is easy because there are no exceptions – when the exact words of another are used, you must identify the author and indicate the words that you are quoting. See Intellectual Honesty.

The following are specific examples of plagiarism, for which the penalties can be very severe:

  • Submitting or presenting work as if it were your own when it isn't.
  • Obtaining then submitting a term paper from a repository.
  • Submitting material for credit that has already been given credit in another course (or the same course at a previous time), without the approval of the professor.
  • Submitting information or material in a course that you know to be false.
  • Submitting co-authored work without the knowledge and agreement of all authors, as well as the approval of the professor.

You can find additional information about Plagiarism and Intellectual Honesty in the Athabasca University Calendar.

Updated August 01 2014 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.