This is the first of seven video modules in Langara Library's Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial. It provides a definition of plagiarism and describes what plagiarism looks like in various disciplines through interviews with Langara instructors.
Narrator: Let's start out by looking at plagiarism defined. Most of the time your instructors won't expect you to conduct original research, but they will expect you to use books and academic articles by experts on your topic. This is perfectly okay - you just have to give credit to other's ideas. We'll talk about how to do this later in this tutorial. For now let's hear what some Langara instructors have to say about why plagiarism matters.
History Instructor: Research papers at this level - first and second year usually begin with the students going through the secondary sources to find an idea that they can use. That's what academic research normally consists of. What we would like to see you do is maybe go out and read some research, some articles about it, and then use those as the basis for your research. In my own field, in history, the way that students generally communicate is through writing. And therefore it's very important that when they are writing, what they are writing is their original work. Now, it's possible to use other people's ideas or words, but you have to acknowledge where they came from. And if you don't you're engaged in theft. And that is why it's a very serious offense.
Narrator: Plagiarism is trying to pass off someone else's words or ideas as your own. The term plagiarism is from the Latin word plagium This is defined as a thief in literature or one who steals the thoughts or writings of another. However, plagiarism happens in all disciplines.
Chemistry Instructor: Yes we do, unfortunately, and in chemistry, the most common place that we see plagiarism is in the lab where the students are to collect data and then process the data later. And oftentimes they'll try to anticipate the result that they want to get or that they think we want, and then they will modify their data to get the result that they're looking for. So that's an instance of plagiarism where they're either making up data or they're copying data from their old labs or from somebody else in the lab. And that's a really serious form of cheating in our in our mind.
Narrator: That concludes your introduction to plagiarism defined. In the next section we'll look at intentional and unintentional plagiarism.