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What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as the use of another person’s academic work (published or unpublished) without providing proper attribution that allows the reader to distinguish between a scholar’s own contribution and that of someone else. Thus plagiarism involves two principle aspects:

  • The reproduction, either paraphrased or verbatim, of the content of academic work of others; and
  • Insufficient reference to sources that would enable the reader to check whether any particular work has indeed been cited accurately and/or fairly and thus identify the writer’s particular contribution in the work submitted.

Regarding the first point it is important to emphasize that it is irrelevant whether content is exactly transcribed, paraphrased or more generally summarized.  Both the words and the ideas of another author need to be clearly identified and attributed.  The nature of the source is likewise irrelevant. Whether books, official documents, commercial reports, essays, journal articles, dissertations, theses, papers to satisfy other academic requirements or by other students, as well as, graphs, illustrations, pictures, audio/video material, and computer code, all sources must be attributed.

The Issue

Plagiarism as described above contradicts the fundamental principle of scholarship, namely, new academic work builds and expands upon previous academic work.  Using the properly cited work of others is an appropriate way to strengthen the force of one’s own arguments and to demonstrate a scholar’s own expertise.

Plagiarism is not a trifling matter

Indeed plagiarism represents the most serious offense one can commit in the world of scholarship next to the deliberate falsification of evidence and sources. Plagiarism constitutes intellectual theft to pass off the ideas of another as one’s own. Nothing excuses plagiarism.  An intentional act of plagiarism is a form of cheating.


Every instance of attempted plagiarism will be documented and recorded.  A failing grade will be automatically awarded for the academic work so judged.  Depending upon the seriousness of the violation, additional further disciplinary measures ranging from probation through academic expulsion may be considered. For visiting students (e.g. ERASMUS) all instances of plagiarism will be reported to the home university.

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