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Statement on Referencing, Plagiarism, and Cheating

MSE Department Statement on Plagiarism and Cheating and Plagiarism Examples, Proper Source Formats, and other Guidelines to Avoid Misusing Sources and/or Plagiarism

MSE Program Statement on Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism and Cheating completely undermines the academy’s ongoing efforts to share and develop ideas. It cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. To eliminate plagiarism and cheating from the classroom and research, and deal justly and uniformly with misuse of sources:

  • STUDENTS, may use any and all sources when carrying out assignments unless explicitly told not to, but always must explicitly acknowledge such sources. Copying material without acknowledgement is plagiarism.
  • STUDENTS, both with their instructor/advisor AND outside the classrooms, have a responsibility to become familiar with department and University policies regarding plagiarism, and to behave ethically as writers and presenters. Students should ask questions, and always be vigorous and diligent in using sources.
  • STUDENTS, if in doubt about citing sources and documenting them, should consult the instructor or advisor, as the penalties for the misuse of sources and plagiarism are severe and strictly enforced. If a student has any questions about the misuse of sources, plagiarism, or academic misconduct after reading this document and speaking with the instructor or advisor, he/she should consult The University of Connecticut’s Division of Student Affairs Policy on Academic Misconduct. If a student wishes to discuss misuse of sources or plagiarism, he or she should consult with the appropriate program director, department head, or other university official. If the instructor files a formal charge of plagiarism, the case then moves to the UConn Office of Community Standards.
  • TEAMS, are collectively responsible for any content they submit or present. Some degree of blame may ultimately be assessed to individuals, but as a rule the entire team bears equal responsibility just as in industry, basic research, etc.
  • INSTRUCTORS, are encouraged to discuss with students the academic implications and consequences of these concepts early and when relevant during the term.
  • ADVISORS, are encouraged to discuss proper-, and mis-, use of sources during a student’s progression towards a degree (e.g. before preparing a capstone project, dissertation proposal, poster or presentation, publication, masters or Ph.D. thesis, etc.). 

Consequences of Plagiarism or Cheating

  • Allegations of plagiarism may lead to diminished grades, a failed class, loss of funding, and/or expulsion from the department or university.

MSE Department Response to Academic Misconduct

If a student, team, or group fails to properly acknowledge the sources of ideas, instructors and advisors will typically choose any of the following 3 options, depending on the perceived severity of the infraction. In advance, it is recommended that a conference be arranged with the student/team/group, with or without the program director or department head present. During this conference the instructor may try to determine the reason behind a student’s lack of proper citation.

  1. The instructor may choose to work with the student, to teach them the way academics share information and develop knowledge, and to generally let them learn from their mistake. This would only be appropriate if a student has failed to acknowledge sources because of a simple lack of proficiency in incorporating sources
    1. The instructor should inform the director of the relevant Program (undergraduate or graduate) and the department head. In this case, the department will track the name(s) and circumstances for consideration in the event of future infractions.
  2. The instructor/advisor may assign a penalty, which the student accepts. This may be a diminished grade for associated assignments, higher expectations for next assignments, rewriting a proposal or thesis section, redoing a presentation, higher scrutiny of additional work, or an F in an entire class. In this event:
    1. The instructor should inform the Program director and department head, again for consideration in the event of future infractions.
    2. The instructor should make digital or paper copies of the work in question and, if available, the original source of the ideas or language. It is recommended that such copies be provided to the department for inclusion in the student’s record.
  3. The instructor may elect to officially report the student to the program director, department head, and other university offices.
    1. In this case, within 5 days of the infraction, instructors must notify students in writing of: i) the penalty; and ii) the student’s opportunity to either accept the consequences proposed by the instructor, or within five days of receipt of the written notice to request a hearing (i.e. max 10 days from the alleged misconduct).
    2. This notification should be submitted to the appropriate office below to record the student’s name and the event in a university database for cataloging misconduct.
      1. For undergraduates, a specific form must also be submitted online.
      2. For graduates, the Dean of the graduate school should be informed.
    3. The instructor should copy the program director and department head on all related communications.
    4. Again the instructor should make copies of the work in question and, if available, the source from which the ideas or language were taken. Copies should be provided to the department to be included in the student’s file.
    5. If deemed necessary, the appropriate Dean will conduct any further adjudication.

Key Terms at a Glance

Academic Misconduct: The University of Connecticut Division of Student Affairs (Dean of Students Office) states the following in The Student Code:
“Academic misconduct is dishonest or unethical academic behavior that includes, but is not limited, to misrepresenting mastery in an academic area (e.g., cheating), failing to properly credit information, research or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research or ideas as your own (e.g., plagiarism).” (Appendix A: Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research)

The Division of Student Affairs website further amplifies the definition of Academic Misconduct as:
“…providing or receiving assistance in a manner not authorized by the instructor in the creation of work to be submitted for academic evaluation (e.g. papers, projects, and examinations); any attempt to influence improperly (e.g. bribery, threats) any member of the faculty, staff, or administration of the University in any matter pertaining to academics or research; presenting, as one’s own, the ideas or words of another for academic evaluation; doing unauthorized academic work for which another person will receive credit or be evaluated; and presenting the same or substantially the same papers or projects in two or more courses without the explicit permission of the instructors involved.”

“A student who knowingly assists another student in committing an act of academic misconduct shall be equally accountable for the violation.” (Academic Integrity Undergraduate FAQ)

Misuse of Sources: The misuse of sources is the failure to acknowledge properly the source of an idea and/or specific language that is presented in any work submitted for evaluation, including (but not limited to) journal entries, drafts of papers, and final submissions of papers. The misuse of sources is a violation of academic codes of conduct and could result in serious penalty. The severity of the penalty depends on an individual instructor’s assessment, in consultation with the Department Head.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the theft of another’s ideas, specific language, or other media, and the presentation—for the purposes of evaluation—of that material as one’s own, at any stage of the writing process, including (but not limited to) journal entries, drafts of papers, and final submissions of papers. The Department takes plagiarism very seriously. Any student who commits plagiarism will receive a grade of “F” for the course in which he or she has committed the act. The Department and the Office of Community Standards will keep the student’s name in a permanent record of students who have committed plagiarism. The Dean of the School or College may also refer the case to the Academic Misconduct Hearing Board to consider whether or not further penalties, including expulsion, are warranted.
To avoid misusing sources or committing plagiarism, a student must include all of his sources with full and proper acknowledgment.

Full and Proper Acknowledgement: The unambiguous identification of the sources of all ideas, language, and other materials that are not one’s own. There are many different methods of identifying a source [MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.], depending on the discipline’s academic conventions. Students must consult with their instructors to determine which specific method is appropriate for the course.

Works Cited

“Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Promising Practices.” Council of Writing Program Administrators. 2003. http://wpacouncil.org/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf
“Responsibilities of Community Life: The Student Code.” University of Connecticut Division of Student Affairs. 11 Oct. 2004. http://community.uconn.edu/the-student-code-preamble/
Rose, Mike. Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America’s Educationally Underprepared. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.


Office of Community Standards. http://community.uconn.edu/
Plagiarism Resources: http://lib.uconn.edu/help/writing/plagiarism-resources/
UConn 1st Year Writing Program http://fyw.uconn.edu/resources-for-instructors-2/ethical-scholarship/
University of Connecticut Writing Center. (www.writingcenter.uconn.edu/).

Guidelines to Avoid Misusing Sources and Plagiarism

Because “virtually all the writing academics do is built on the writing of others” (Rose 180), and academics need to know an individual writer’s contribution to a subject, they have established certain conventions for attributing the source of an idea. Academic conventions dictate that a writer must provide full and proper acknowledgment of all ideas and expressions that are not his own. To provide full and proper acknowledgment, a writer or presenter must do all of the following:

  • Include an independent “References” section in the paper, poster, or presentation. (Note that a References section alone is useful, but is not full and proper acknowledgment, since it does not tell the reader precisely which parts of the work actually present another person’s ideas.) Thus, in addition:
  • Indicate clearly where direct quotations within a paper begin and end by using quotations as well as introductory phrases identifying the original author.
  • If copied figures are used, note the original source in the caption and any related text.
  • When citing from an electronic source or web site, you must identify the orignal published source. If this is unavailable, or the web site is the source/author, then site the URL.
  • Follow conventional citation conventions, both directly at the point of use, and in the independent Reference section. Formatting is articulated in numerous writing handbooks, and especially in guidelines for authors to specific journals. Common examples follow:
Written Work (directly following use)
Reference number, possibly also 1st author’s last name, source, year.
Reference Section (Written or Presentations)
Book: reference #, authors, “title,” publisher, (year).
Book Chapter: #, chapter authors, “chapter title,” book title, book editor, publisher, (year).
Journal: #, authors, “title,” journal, volume, [edition], page, (year).
Website: #, authors (if identified), (date, if identified), www link.
Personal Communication: collaborator, affiliation, (date).
Presentations (at point of use)
1st author, source, year.

Note: DOI’s and ISBN’s are also increasingly common or even mandatory for proper citations of journal articles and books, respectively.

Examples for Student and Faculty

Several scenarios for cases of plagiarism are listed below as examples. A student is guilty of plagiarism if she/he does ANY of the following:

  • “Cuts and pastes” printed or electronic text (from the Internet or elsewhere) into her paper, and presents it as her own.
  • Consults an Internet or print source to “get ideas” that he then incorporates into a paper, without proper attribution.
  • Retypes material from a printed or electronic source, presenting it as her own.
  • Submits a paper written by someone else, including a tutor, while claiming to be the author.
  • Submits a paper he has written in another course.
  • Puts another person’s ideas “in her own words,” without documenting the source.
  • Takes another person’s expressions–a key word, a phrase, or a longer passage—without telling the reader precisely what has been done. This is considered plagiarism even when the student’s own ideas are being expressed.