Professor John Munro passed away on December 23, 2013. This site is maintained and kept online as an archive. For more infomation please visit the Centre for Medieval Studies
(1) The deliberate copying (though not necessarily fully word for word) of one or more passages from some other source, whether published or on the internet (web) without using quotation marks, or without clearly offsetting the quoted passages, and without proper attribution.
(2) The acquisition and presentation of an essay produced by someone else, and acquired from some other source: an 'essay bank' (whether or not online), from a friend, or fraternity, etc., whether or not paid for.
(3) The submission of an essay that the student wrote and handed in to another course.
(1) You will be summoned to a meeting with me and the TA, where the evidence for plagiarism will be presented. In most cases, we discover plagiarism by using Google for the suspected passages; and that usually reveals plagiarism. Furthermore, most students reveal their acts of plagiarism through abrupt changes in style -- especially through presenting copied passages that can not credibly be the work of a student.
(2) You will be allowed to present your defence to establish that you did not deliberately commit plagiarism. But a clear warning: you cannot and may not excuse yourself from the charge of plagiarism by contending that it was unintentional, especially not when it appears to have been deliberate. A common but unacceptable excuse is that the student 'forgot' to use quotation marks. In any event, we professors are not allowed to make such judgements -- that is for the decanal committee on Academic Offences.
(3) You also cannot avoid a charge of plagiarism by claiming that you did change some words. If the passage copied is essentially the same as the original, even if not everywhere word for word, and you did not indicate that it was a quotation, the charge of plagiarism will still stand.
(4) If you fail to convince us of your innocence, I will then present the evidence, along with a report from me and from the TA, to the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will then present the case, with this documentation, to the office of the Dean of Arts and Science for judicial action.
(5) Please clearly understand that, in doing so, we (I the professor and the TA) are not convicting you of any offence. We instead contending that there is a prima facie case for proceeding with a decanal interview, followd, if necessary, by a formal judicial inquiry. At the same time, to repeat what is stated above, for more emphasis: we are not permitted, once we find such a prima facie case, to exercise our own judgement on this matter: that is entirely up to the office of the Dean of Arts and Science. So, do not even try to ask us to ignore the case -- i.e., to 'have mercy' on you. Seek mercy from the Dean's office (and, best of luck to you!)
(6) The Dean of Arts and Science's Office of Student Conduct will then summon you for an interview, to defend yourself against these charges or to plead guilty. This interview or meeting is usually chaired by an older professor serving as the Dean's Designate; and usually I attend all such cases involving my own students (sometimes also with my TA). Also attending, and offering both evidence and advice, are officials from this office who will have examined every line written in your assignment, and checked it (usually by using Google) for all possible incidences of plagiarism.
(7) If you plead guilty, and this is a first offence, you will probably get off with the minimum penalty (see below). If you know that you did commit this offence, then you are indeed best advised to agree and to plead guilty. Please note and understand carefully that a defence consisting of such statements as: 'I did not intend to commit plagiarism' or 'I did not realize that I was committing plagiarism', or 'I had intended to hand in a revised version', etc. will have no merit and no effect in alleviating your penalty. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in any court; and you are expected to have read and to have understood the course outline, Instructions on Writing Term Essays, and this web document on plagiarism.
(8) You will be judged on the basis of what you had submitted (wrote), in comparison with the sources from which your copied the passages of concern. Read line 6 above again, carefully.
(9) If you still deny your plagiarism, and the Dean's office is convinced by the case that is presented, you will have a formal hearing before a decanal judicial tribunal for academic offences; and you will be permitted legal council. If you are found guilty, the punisment may be very severe: possibly more so than the penalty levied at this interview (i.e., if you plead guilty). That may involve suspension from the University for one or more years, or even formal expulsion from the university, though usually only for repeated offences.
(10) The normal penalty, for a first offence, is zero for the essay and a reduction of the same value for the essay -- for this course, 20 marks, and thus for a total loss of 40 marks -- from your final grade (virtually ensuring failure on the course). Please note the fairness and equity of this penalty: obviously the penalty for plagiarism must be more severe then the penalty of zero for not handing in an essay at all; for the latter is not an academic offence, while plagiarism most certainly is!
(11) Such penalties imposed for plagiarism provide an exception to the provision that students may base their term mark (60% of the total) on the best three of four submissions (three essays and the mid-year test). Obviously, a student guilty of plagiarism cannot have the penalty of a zero grade erased in this fashion; and thus the zero grade penalty and any other penalty imposed must stand. I will, however, consider taking an average of the four pieces of term mark, with the zero weighting for the plagiarized essay.
(12) Furthermore, a citation of the penalties imposed for plagiarism will also be applied on your record, sometimes to graduation. That citation will most likely prevent you from entering graduate school, law school, medicine, or any other professional faculty, and may provide a serious obstacle in seeking employment. In other words, you risk ruining your life by committing plagiarism.
(1) Learn to take notes by making a brief summary or précis of these passages.
(2) Take notes in point form: not in complete sentences
(3) In composing your essay, do not copy your notes.
(1) Read over your notes, taken from your research sources: one note only per source, per page
(2) Using your notes, construct an outline of your essay, in point form
(3) Then set your notes aside;
(4) Write your essay without directly looking at your notes, except for references.
(5) Re-read your notes to ensure that you have incorporated all the main points in your outline and in your arguments.
For further considerations on Plagiarism, and how to avoid it: