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Academic honesty

GCC librarians have developed a 45-minute, interactive instruction module on the subject of Academic honesty. To schedule an instruction session on this topic or any other, see Information literacy & research instruction. See below for other resources on academic honesty and plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?
“Plagiarism is an act of copyright infringement and is tantamount to stealing. When using a source, regardless of its medium (i.e. paper, microfilm, online, art work, musical works, dramatic works, film, etc.), and not giving credit to the creator (i.e. not properly citing the source) you are committing plagiarism.”-from the Plagiarism Web Page at the University of South Dakota (

Many discussions of academic dishonesty differentiate between two types of plagiarism: accidental and intentional. The first occurs when students are unaware of the need to credit the necessary sources. The second type occurs when students are aware that they are “cheating” but choose to take the risk in the hopes that they will not get caught or that the penalties will be minimal.  

The GCC Student Handbook states:

“Academic honesty is a basic and absolute expectation of the faculty and staff at Greenfield Community College. The college upholds the definition of plagiarism published by the Modern Language Association: ‘To use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source.’ . . . In the case of an incident, these offenses should be first reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs or his/her designee for jurisdiction.”

The handbook lists the steps that the college will follow in resolving a case of suspected plagiarism, including the use of sanctions.

Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism
This is a best practices statement from the Council of Writing Program Administrators and includes a definition, causes, responsibilities, and suggested practices.

Avoiding Plagiarism–Advice for Students
(see student handout on plagiarism, including these sites, at:

Preventing Intentional Plagiarism

Detecting Plagiarism

On plagiarism detection tools and guide to papermills

In recent years, numerous companies have developed software allowing educators to search parts of the Internet for any writings that closely resemble a student’s paper. (To test an entire paper, professors must require students to provide their papers on disk or by e-mail.) Most companies will allow professors to try out their services a few times for free. Although these websites can be successful in quickly tracking down instances of plagiarism, they are not a perfect solution to the plagiarism problem.

One shortcoming of the tools is that they are not able to search large amounts of the Internet-the “invisible Web.” For example, plagiarism involving scholarly articles found in GCC Library’s Online Databases (including EBSCOhost and InfoTrac) would not be caught with these tools.

Some academics are also concerned about the ethics, and even the legality, of making students’ papers available to these private companies. In 2002, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a prominent plagiarism detection tool,, had come under fire because it copies submitted student papers for its database. Concerns over copyright and privacy led UC Berkeley to decide not to subscribe to that service. (“Plagiarism-Detection Tool Creates Legal Quandary,” by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education Vol. 48, no. 36, 5/17/02). 

In addition, some verification sites may be less than scrupulous. The University of Alberta’s website suggests that a few could actually be taking submitted papers and reselling them at papermills. Therefore, professors who choose to use these tools will want to avoid those that are not run by respected academics or organizations, and may wish to submit only a few carefully selected sentences from the student’s paper rather than the entire paper. ( U. of Alberta)

An overview of various plagiarism detection sites is provided by librarian Sharon Stoerger at

The following are examples of online plagiarism detection tools:
Calling itself “the world’s leading plagiarism prevention system,” this site contains praise from Library Journal. It was created by scholars at UC Berkeley, and is run by former educators, researchers, and business people. Professors can receive one month free with 5 tests of papers. As with the sites below, it does not test against full-text databases including EBSCOhost and Infotrak.
Glatt Plagiarism Program was created by an American professor, who continues to run it.
This site provides a tool called Eve2.
Wordcheck was given a low rating in 2001 by a British team evaluating plagiarism detection tools.
Information from the U. of Virginia about a possible connection between Plagiserve and paper mills.

Papermills–sites that sell or provide free student papers 

Professors may find it useful to familiarize themselves with websites from which students can obtain papers and to let their students know that they are aware of these sites. Some professors routinely dissect papers from paper mills in their classes. (Coastal Carolina U.)
Provides a listing and information about over 250 Internet papermills. (Bowling Green State U.)
Provides a list of online sites that sell or provide free research papers.