Perhaps one of the easiest ways to effectively hamper our academic careers is through intentional or unintentional academic dishonesty. There are those actions we commit with awareness of our misconduct (cheating on an exam, copying, or tampering with test materials), and those actions which are serious transgressions, of which we may or may not be aware. While ignorance is no excuse for academic dishonesty, it is certainly the reason why we may unintentionally cheat without realizing the implications of our actions.
One of the most common ways is plagiarism. It is a wider category with more avenues for offense than what is apparent. We know that using someone elseâ€™s words â€” paraphrasing, or misquoting â€” without crediting him or her, is plagiarism. However, an offense most of us are uninformed of, is re-submitting or using the same research paper or essay we have written, more than once, for different courses. While it may sound counterintuitive â€” it is after all, our work, and we are entitled to use our writing as we see fit â€” from the perspective of the instructor, reusing and recycling old work is like flouting an assignment and seeking credit for something you havenâ€™t done for that class specifically. Other actions that could violate the UC Academic Honesty Policy and are less prevalent are listed in better detail on the UCSB website. I urge every student to read this to prevent any inadvertent misconduct due to neglect, and to understand the gravity of committing an academic offense. Reading the policy is a must. However, to further safeguard yourself, there are two other important ways in which you can prevent unintentional plagiarism:Â
If you are unsure, over-cite, rather than under-cite your sources in a research paper, essay, or even just a class assignment.Â
If you take your work to TA or a professor to proofread or approve, be as transparent as possible about your sources. If any source is unacceptable, he or she will tell you, saving you from possibly plagiarizing.Â
It is possible to make a mistake and say we didnâ€™t know, but the UC policy on cheating is unforgiving, and rightly so. Understand that cheating is not something UCSB takes lightly; it is not something you can get off with, with a reprimand or a stern look. Suspension and even expulsion are possible for cases of plagiarism and dishonesty, whether intentional or unintentional. Ignorance about academic policy should not be an excuse, nor the reason, for such dire consequences upon your transcript. Donâ€™t let neglect be the cause for your academic failure: read the UCSB Academic Honesty Policy, and be aware of your actions.Â