The WBU catalog states the expectation that students will conduct their studies with integrity. It also states that there are penalties for disregarding this admonition. You may wonder exactly what is expected of you at Wayland in this regard. In some ways it is easiest to point out what is not academically honest. In general terms, cheating is the term that best describes academic dishonesty. This is the unethical use of resources; it means gaining advantage by fraudulence. Cheating includes unauthorized use of test answers, using "cheat notes" on an exam, etc. A form of cheating that is particularly prevalent in online classes is plagiarism. This is the act of presenting the ideas and statements of another as one's own. Think of it as literary theft.
You may feel that sentences found on web pages are just "out there" for anyone to use as they wish. It certainly is easy to copy and paste lines of text into your research paper. You could just act like you are so smart that you know everything about the subject. Of course, your instructor will probably be suspicious since he or she presumably knows a lot more about the subject than you do. More importantly, plagiarism is equivalent to gathering up groceries in your basket and walking out of the store without paying for them. You are stealing something that another person created. And you really don't want to do that, do you?
You can read more explicit information on plagiarism by clicking on any of the following links:
Ways to avoid plagiarism
Essentially, there are two steps in avoiding plagiarism:
Students often wonder about using the ideas of others in their papers. "If I restate the idea in a way that isn't a direct quote, do I have to give a reference?" The safest approach is, if you had to do research to uncover the idea, put a reference to the source. (The last two links above give great examples to clarify the process.) You don't have to give a page or paragraph number for a restated idea, but at least acknowledge where the idea came from. I mean, what do you have to lose by citing your sources? An exception would be when the idea is found in a reference book such as an encyclopedia. It may be presumed to be general knowledge and a citation of the source is unnecessary (unless you quote it).
- Keep a reference sheet onto which you copy and paste quotes. At the end of the quote, key in the bibliographical information. It would be wise to copy the URL directly from the address bar in your browser. When you are ready to use a quote, copy it from your reference sheet. That way you know how to attribute the source.
- Indicate in your paper that you are quoting by
- setting off the quote in quotation marks or as an indented paragraph (when it is long), and
- giving a reference to the source, whether by footnote, endnote, or parenthetical reference.
By the way, it is very easy for your instructor to detect plagiarism of internet materials. So don't plagiarize.