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Discussion: Recognizing and Avoiding Plagiarism

What is plagiarism exactly? Is it always done on purpose? The rules related to plagiarism can be complex, and there are instances in which people who have unwittingly plagiarized have ended up in court. The concept of academic integrity includes the avoidance of plagiarism. To avoid plagiarism, it helps to first recognize it.

For this Discussion, you will review fictional scenarios that depict common occurrences in the classroom. It is an opportunity for you to practice identifying plagiarism and discussing how to avoid plagiarism in these situations.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the materials in this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Read the four scenarios presented below and, for each situation, determine whether the student has plagiarized.
    1. John has not had time to work on his online assignment on psychological theory. He found a website that has an article with the content he needs to complete his assignment. However, he has only 30 minutes before his assignment is due. John believes that the author of the article described psychological theory so well that it would take John hours to paraphrase the material. John decides to copy several sentences and one short paragraph from the article and paste it into his own paper. He includes the author in the references and believes that this appropriately cites the author.
    2. Sally has a writing assignment due. She has written about the topic before in a previous course and received 100% on that paper. She decides to include several paragraphs from her previous work in her current paper.
    3. Brad just finished submitting his writing assignment through SafeAssign, and the similarity report shows a 40% match between passages he wrote and various websites.
    4. Catherine likes to include quotes from famous psychologists in her writing assignments. She does not use quotation marks, but Catherine makes sure to include the citation immediately following each quote.
  • Reflect on how the Walden resources and communication with colleagues (including your Instructor) could impact the outcome of the scenarios.
  • Choose one of the scenarios for your Discussion.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post a description of the scenario you chose and whether you believe the student plagiarized. Explain what led you to make that determination. Provide one strategy that the student can use to avoid potential plagiarism, given the scenario presented.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to this week’s Learning Resources.

American Psychological Association. (2010b). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

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