Plagiarism 101: The Cost of Plagiarism

by The Writing Center Staff
At the Plagiarism Awareness Pizza Party, we were asked:
  • What are the penalties of plagiarism?
  • Do i get expelled if I plagiarize?
Mount Saint Mary College lists its Academic Dishonesty Policy in the Student Handbook and in the Undergraduate Catalog. This lists the repercussions of plagiarism committed at this institution.
We were also asked:
  • Could you get in trouble if you don’t cite properly?

Put simply, yes. The reason for citing is to give credit to the author and to inform the reader that you are referencing work that is not your own. Improper citations can either give improper or no credit to the original author, thus defeating the purpose of citing. Plagiarism has two branches: Intentional and unintentional. Improper citation (e.g. forgetting quotations marks, citing the wrong author, paraphrasing too closely) usually falls under unintentional plagiarism.

    The MSMC Student Handbook (p. 45) defines plagiarism as, “either intentionally or accidentally copying or imitating ideas or thoughts of another person and passing them off as one’s original work.”  Notice that accidentally(unintentional) plagiarizing also comes with the repercussions listed in the link above.
    These policies seem intimidating, but they are with good intention. Citing knowledge that isn’t your own is both courteous and expected in our culture. Know that memorizing every style of citation and its corresponding rules is not expected of you. You are, however, responsible for seeking out the answers to your citation questions.
Our intention for answering these questions so honestly is not to scare you. Rather, to be transparent about both the importance of properly citing your work and the consequences of not doing so. You should be confident in your work, not scared of it. We also want you to be aware of the tools and resources on campus that can aid you in avoiding plagiarism and diminishing the fear of accidental academic dishonesty.
The Writing Center is equipped and excited to answer your questions.We love to educate the community not only on plagiarism and its definitions, but also how to avoid it in both its intentional and accidental forms.  We provide resources and consultations with trained tutors to help you clarify any question about plagiarism and/or citations you may have.
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