Academic honesty

GCC librarians have developed an interactive instruction module on the subject of academic honesty. To schedule an instruction session on this topic or any other, see our information literacy instruction faculty page. See below for other resources on academic honesty and plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's words or ideas and passing them off as your own.

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 that each of the following count as an act of academic dishonesty:

  1. Use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations.
  2. Dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments.
  3. The acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the College faculty or staff.
  4. Plagiarism, which is defined as the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials. Taking credit for work done by another person or doing work for which another person will receive credit. Copying or purchasing others' work or arranging for others to do work under a false name.

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

Avoiding Plagiarism--Advice for Students

Detecting Plagiarism--Advice for Faculty

  • Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism, from the Council of Writing Program Administrators
  • Deterring Plagiarism: Some Strategies, from the University of Toronto
  • Advanced Google Searching
    • Some professors have found this search engine effective in finding the source of material plagiarized on the web, particularly if the student paper contains one or more distinctive phrases. Search for the phrase or sentence in quotation marks to find where else this exact phrase appears on the open web.

On plagiarism detection tools and guide to paper mills

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 electronically.) 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).