Two of the most important principles of American higher education are academic freedom and academic honesty. Academic freedom is the right of all members of the college community to participate in a free and open exchange of ideas. With this freedom comes the responsibility for academic integrity.
Brooklyn College has adopted a policy on academic integrity:
Academic dishonesty of any type, including cheating and plagiarism, is unacceptable at Brooklyn College. Cheating is any misrepresentation in academic work. Plagiarism is the representation of another person's work, words or ideas as your own. Students should consult the Brooklyn College Student Handbook for a fuller, more specific discussion of related academic integrity standards. Faculty are encouraged to discuss with students the application of these standards to work in each course. Academic dishonesty is punishable by failure of the "test, examination, term paper, or other assignment on which cheating occurred" (Faculty Council, May 18, 1954). In addition, disciplinary proceedings in cases of academic dishonesty may result in penalties of admonition, warning, censure, disciplinary probation, restitution, suspension, expulsion, complaint to civil authorities, and ejection.
(Adopted by Policy Council, May 8, 1991)
It is unacceptable to falsify the data upon which you base your ideas or to present the ideas of others as your own, either intentionally or unintentionally. Academic integrity cannot tolerate either cheating or plagiarism.
Cheating is the use or attempted use of fraud, deception or misrepresentation in any academic exercise. Examples of cheating include:
Use of unauthorized notes or material during an exam.
Exchanging information with another student during an exam.
Having another student take an exam for you.
Tampering with an exam after it has been returned, then claiming that the instructor made a grading error.
Using data gathered by another student in your lab report.
Submitting as your own work a paper written by someone else.
Undisclosed submission of the same paper for different courses.
These are typical cheating examples, not an exhaustive list. Students who cheat almost always are aware that what they are doing is wrong. When in doubt, ask your instructor.
Plagiarism is representing the words or ideas of another as one's own work in any academic exercise. The college community expects that a student's work is a product of that student's own thought and research. One should acknowledge ideas which originate with others or words which are taken from another source. While students generally know what is allowable on examinations, many are less sure about what is allowed when writing a paper.
Some rules to follow to avoid plagiarism are:
Place any direct phrase from a source in quotation marks and note it at the bottom of the page (a footnote) [or at the end of the paper (an endnote)].
Use a footnote [or endnote] when paraphrasing a source's idea, or citing data and other facts which are not common knowledge.
Take clear notes in which you keep your own thoughts apart from those you acquire during your reading so that you do not inadvertently submit the words or ideas of others as your own.
Obviously, learning involves reading, digesting and understanding the thoughts and ideas of experts, but always try to make your own thoughts central in the process. A paper which consists mostly of a string of quotes is not a good paper, even if you have avoided plagiarism by using lots of proper footnotes.
The following plagiarism examples are reproduced by permission of the publisher from Fredrick C. Crews, The Random House Handbook (New York: Random House, Inc. 1987, pages 502-504).
"The joker in the European pack was Italy. For a time hopes were entertained of her as a force against Germany, but these disappeared under Mussolini. In 1935 Italy made a belated attempt to participate in the scramble for Africa by invading Ethiopia. It was clearly a breach of the covenant of the League of Nations for one of its members to attack another. France and Great Britain, as great powers, Mediterranean powers, and African colonial powers, were bound to take the lead against Italy at the League. But they did so feebly and halfheartedly because they did not want to alienate a possible ally against Germany. The result was the worst possible: the League failed to check aggression, Ethiopia lost her independence, and Italy was alienated after all." [J.M. Roberts, History of the New World (New York: Knopf, 1976), p. 845.]Version A:
Italy, one might say, was the joker in the European deck. When she invaded Ethiopia, it was clearly a breach of the covenant of the League of Nations; yet the efforts of England and France to take the lead against her were feeble and half-hearted. It appears that those great powers had no wish to alienate a possible ally against Hitier's rearmed Germany. (no footnote)Comment:
Clearly plagiarism. Though the facts cited are public knowledge, the stolen phrases are not. Note that the writer's interweaving of his or her own words with the source does not make him innocent of plagiarism.Version B:
Italy was the joker in the European deck. Under Mussolini in 1935, she made a belated attempt to participate in the scramble for Africa by invading Ethiopia. As J.M. Roberts points out, this violated the covenant of the League of Nations. (1) But France and Britain, not wanting to alienate a possible ally against Germany, put up only feeble and half-hearted opposition to the Ethiopian adventure. The outcome, as Roberts observes, was "the worst possible: the League failed to check aggression, Ethiopia lost her independence, and Italy was alienated after all." (2)
(1) J. M. Roberts, History of the New World (New York: Knopf, 1976), p 845.
(2) Roberts, p. 845.
Still plagiarism. The two correct citations of Roberts serve as a kind of alibi for appropriating other, unacknowledged phrases.Version C:
Much has been written about German rearmament and militarism in the period 1933-1939. But Germany's dominance in Europe was by no means a foregone conclusion. The fact is that the balance of power might have tipped against Hitler if one or two things had turned out differently. Take ltaly's gravitation toward an alliance with Germany for example. That alliance seemed so very far from inevitable that Britain and France actually muted their criticism of the Ethiopian invasion in the hopes of remaining friends with Italy. They opposed the Italians in the League of Nations, as J.M. Roberts observes, "feebly and half-heartedly because they did not want to alienate a possible ally against Germany." (1) Suppose Italy, France and Britain had retained a certain common interest. Would Hitler have been able to get away with his remarkable bluffing and bullying in the later thirties?Comment:
(1) J.M.Roberts, History of the New World (New York: Knopf, 1976), p. 845.
No plagiarism. The writer has been influenced by the public facts, but hasn't tried to pass off Robert's conclusions as his own. The one clear borrowing is properly acknowledged.
It is your responsibility to learn the standard practices of documentation in different fields. The examples given above cannot cover all situations. When in doubt, discuss the matter with your instructor. Every field has written descriptions of its accepted methods which are available in the library. Your instructors or a librarian can refer you to these authorities. Do not be reluctant 'Lo ask questions about these issues in your classes.
The penalties for cheating or plagiarism begin with failure of the particular paper or exercise and may include disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion from the college. These penalties apply as well to those who assist others in cheating. Students should be aware that one's academic disciplinary record can have serious long term implications. For example, law school admission offices require that you have the college notify them of any disciplinary records, including those involving academic integrity.
Recently a winner of the Nobel Prize in biology was reprimanded because someone in his laboratory had falsified data in an experiment. A Harvard professor and past president of a national professional society had to resign when it was revealed that review articles which he had authored many years previously included many unacknowledged quotes and paraphrases from sources. The demand for absolute integrity in academic work applies to everyone.
Similar standards apply outside of academia. Senator Joseph Biden was forced to drop out of the 1988 presidential race after it was discovered that he had "borrowed" a speech from a member of Parliament in England without acknowledging it.
Adopted by Policy Council, October 29, 1991