The Carleton University Undergraduate Calendar defines plagiarism as “pass[ing] off as one’s own idea, or product, work of another without expressly giving credit to another.”

How Plagiarism is Committed

Plagiarism is committed if you were to hand in someone else’s paper.

– Turning in under your name a piece of work that was written by another person, either with or without that person’s consent.

– Turning in under your name a paper obtained from a Web site, or another source.

Plagiarism can also involve the way you write your papers.

– Taking information from a source without acknowledging where it came from.

– Using the exact words of one of your sources (books, articles, websites) without putting these in quotation marks, even if you do put in a reference to where they came from.

The Penalties for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is considered a form of academic dishonesty, and is deeply resented by all professors. The Carleton procedure for dealing with evidence of this and other instructional offences is for professors to forward evidence to the Dean’s office. The Associate Deans then hold interviews with students suspected of plagiarism and make a decision as to whether the allegations are to be sustained. If found guilty, students are given failing grades in either the piece of work concerned, or the whole course. In extremely serious cases, or for repeat offences, more severe penalties can be enacted by the University Senate. Letters of reprimand are also placed in student files. Over 100 students last year were convicted of plagiarism, and most found it a traumatic experience. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!!

How to Avoid Plagiarism

1. Always use quotation marks and references when you wish to put the exact words of an author into your essay or project.

2. Use a reference or note when you use the information or ideas from an author, even when the author’s words are being paraphrased.

3. Learn the proper way to paraphrase an author. Changing some of the author’s words, while retaining some of them and keeping the author’s sentence structure is not sufficient.


“Some might look to the benefits of these quiescent political times, where the opposition looks even less likely to threaten the Liberal hegemony than it did during the Mackenzie King-St. Laurent years. But others will point to the unhealthy state of democracy when the public turns away from the exercise of the franchise, feels that important policy matters are ignored at election time, and feels frustrated at their inability to identify a meaningful choice between reasonable alternatives.” (Jon H. Pammett, “The People’s Verdict,” in Jon H. Pammett and Christopher Dornan, eds, The Canadian General Election of 2000 (Toronto: Dundurn, 2001) p. 315.

Suppose you found this article on the 2000 election and wanted to make the point contained in it in your paper.

1. Do not simply write all or part of it into your paper.

2. You could quote the author by using quotation marks and a footnote or citation.

3. You could paraphrase him by interpreting what he said in your own words, such as:

“One writer (Pammett, 2001, 315) thinks that the 2000 election could be interpreted as either one that brought on a period of stable, unchallenged, Liberal rule, which might have positive consequences, or as a reflection of a sickness in Canadian democracy, where people are becoming cynical and alienated from politics.”

4. While the phrasing in point 3 above is an acceptable paraphrase, the following would not be acceptable.

“One writer (Pammett, 2001, 315) thinks that people could either look to the benefits of quiescent political times or could identify the unhealthy state of democracy because the public feels frustrated at their ability to identify a meaningful choice between the parties.”

The preceding attempt to paraphrase would not be acceptable because you have included several phrases of the author, like “look to the benefits of quiescent political times,” “the unhealthy state of democracy,” and “feels frustrated at their inability to identify a meaningful choice,” in such a way that the reader is led to believe that they are your words, not Pammett’s. This would still be considered plagiarism, even though the author is cited, and you have changed some of the words.

5. One good tip in avoiding plagiarism relates to the way you take notes. Do not write the exact words of the author into your notes unless you plan to use them as quotes in your paper. If you write your notes in your own words, you will not run into trouble if you use them later on.