Skip to main content

Plagiarism: Overview of Plagiarism

We will help you understand how Los Angeles City College views and defines plagiarism, and the steps in takes when a student has plagiarized. In addition we help you avoid plagiarism.

Los Angeles City College Policies on Plagiarism

Tips to Avoid Plagiarism

1. Be sure you understand the assignment. If you have ANY questions, do not hesitate to ASK the instructor.

2. Be sure you understand the definition of PLAGIARISM:

To PLAGIARIZE is to use another’s ideas or words as if they were your own. That would include purchasing or otherwise obtaining a part or all of another person’s work which you then represent as your own original work, including commercial term papers, from friends, family or the internet. Most of the time, you have to incorporate other writers’ words and ideas in an assignment. If given permission to consult those writers, go ahead, but be sure to cite them. For citation help, visit our Citation Guide

3. Be sure you understand the CONSEQUENCES of plagiarism:

a. When you plagiarize, you hand in work that is not your own for critical review. You do not learn anything because your work is not being reviewed. When you plagiarize, you sabotage the quality of your education.
b. When you plagiarize, you steal, just as if you took a book from a store. You are claiming someone else’s ideas as your own.
c. When you plagiarize, chances are good that you will be caught. Do you want to be caught stealing ideas?
d. A grade of zero or “F” on an exam or paper, or even suspension from the College.

4. Visit the English Writing Lab. You can get one-on-one help with writing skills, grammar, topic development—anything involved in writing a paper.

5. Visit your instructor - make an appointment or go during office hours. There are no dumb questions when it comes to assuring that your work is honest.

6. If you know of someone who is plagiarizing an assignment, confront the person and/or tell the instructor. Papers that are plagiarized will impact the grading curve. It is in your best interest if everyone does his or her own work.

7. Make sure that you do not violate academic integrity in other ways. Do NOT:

a. fabricate: falsify or invent information.
b. collaborate: working with someone else when you were told to complete the assignment on your own. 
c. submit the same paper or project to more than one instructor, where no prior approval has been given.

LACC expects students to be honest and ethical at all times. Be advised that instructors will refer cases of suspected cheating to the Dean of Student Services for possible disciplinary action. Cheating is a violation of academic integrity and Board Rule 9803.12. Penalties for cheating may include a grade of zero or “F” on an exam or paper, or even suspension from the College.

What Does Plagiarism Look Like?

What Does Plagiarism Look Like? 

Plagiarism can take a number of forms, including buying papers from a service on the Internet, reusing work done by another student, and copying text from published sources without giving credit to those who produced the sources. All forms of plagiarism have in common the misrepresentation of work not done by the writer as the writer’s own. (And, yes, that includes work you pay for: while celebrities may put their names on work by ghostwriters, students may not.)

Even borrowing just a few words from an author without clearly indicating that you did so constitutes plagiarism. Moreover, you can plagiarize unintentionally; in hastily taken notes, it is easy to mistake a phrase copied from a source as your original thought and then to use it without crediting the source.

Imagine, for example, that you read the following passage in the course of your research (from Michael Agar’s book Language Shock):

Everyone uses the word language and everybody these days talks about culture. . . . “Languaculture” is a reminder, I hope, of the necessary connection between its two parts. . . .

If you wrote the following sentence, it would constitute plagiarism:

At the intersection of language and culture lies a concept that we might call “languaculture.”

This sentence borrows a word from Agar’s work without giving credit for it. Placing the term in quotation marks is insufficient. If you use the term, you must give credit to its source:

At the intersection of language and culture lies a concept that Michael Agar has called “languaculture” (60).

In this version, a reference to the original author and a parenthetical citation indicate the source of the term; a corresponding entry in your list of works cited will give your reader full information about the source.

It’s important to note that you need not copy an author’s words to be guilty of plagiarism; if you paraphrase someone’s ideas or arguments without giving credit for their origin, you have committed plagiarism. Imagine that you read the following passage (from Walter A. McDougall’s Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World since 1776):

American Exceptionalism as our founders conceived it was defined by what America was, at home. Foreign policy existed to defend, not define, what America was.

If you write the following sentence, you have plagiarized, even though you changed some of the wording:

For the founding fathers America’s exceptionalism was based on the country’s domestic identity, which foreign policy did not shape but merely guarded.

In this sentence, you have borrowed an author’s ideas without acknowledgment. You may use the ideas, however, if you properly give credit to your source:

As Walter A. McDougall argues, for the founding fathers America’s exceptionalism was based on the country’s domestic identity, which foreign policy did not shape but merely guarded (37).

In this revised sentence, which includes an in-text citation and clearly gives credit to McDougall as the source of the idea, there is no plagiarism.

Source: MLA Academic Dishonesty

10 Most Common Types of Plagiarism

Plagiarim Tutorial

Contact Us:
Library (323) 953-4000 ext: 2400 * Reference (323) 953-4000 ext: 2406 * Circulation/Periodicals (323) 953-4000 ext: 2395
mlklibrary@lacitycollege.edu