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School of Land Use and Environmental Change


There is a zero tolerance policy towards cheating (see UFV Policy 70‌, Student Academic Misconduct). The UFV Library provides an excellent plagiarism LibGuide with links to relevant policies and the academic appeals process.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating that is often unintentional or difficult to avoid.

Plagiarism is the passing off of written work (reports, term papers, short assignments) as being one's own, when it was, in whole or part, produced by someone other than the student; this can involve ‘lifting’ or ‘borrowing’ entire phrases, sentences, paragraphs—even documents—and submitting them, unquoted and uncited.

It can also involve using the majority of one source for most of one’s research paper or report, where the requirement is that the student consults multiple sources. For instance, if you use more than 50% of the information and ideas from one source for the bulk of your research paper, this is considered plagiarism.

Article and book reviews and critiques are not included in this definition, as the purpose of the assignment is specifically to present and assess the ideas made in a single source.

Students who are unsure whether or not they are plagiarising need to ask their instructor before submitting the assignment.

In accordance with university policy, instructors are to report cases of plagiarism to their department heads. In Geography, the GATE department head would then be responsible for investigating the report, and to work with the Office of Academic Integrity and Appeals.

  • Do NOT ‘cherry pick’ quotes, and do not copy information verbatim and out of context from the original text.
  • Write all research notes in your own words, except when using quotes.
  • Use as many different sources as possible, and if multiple authors say the same idea, make note of this. Explain the idea, in your own words, and cite all of these authors at the end of the sentence. (See example below and Citations and reference lists for examples of how to do this.)

This is not only a good way to avoid plagiarism, it illustrates to the reader of your paper or report that you did a greater degree of research, made necessary linkages, and were able to better organize the information—all qualities that will result in a higher mark.

  • Make sure you understand the concept or information before including it in your paper. If you don’t understand it, you’re much less likely to paraphrase it. If you require clarification on an idea, speak with the instructor.
  • If the instructor offers you the opportunity to submit rough drafts—take advantage of it! Your instructor can often pick up on problems, including plagiarism, at an early enough stage to remedy the problem.
  • Do NOT over-quote. Using too many quotes from the same source can verge on plagiarism as well. Look for multiple sources.

Original text:

“Canada is home to just over 30 million people. Just as an economic core/periphery pattern exists in Canada, so does a demographic one. Ontario and Quebec account for 62% of Canada’s population” (Bone 2005, 157).

The following are examples of plagiarism:

  1. Compared to the United States, Canada’s population is quite small. Canada is home to more than 30 million people, and Ontario or Quebec account for 62% of this total. (Failure to cite materials and material is taken nearly verbatim)
  2. Canada is home to 30 million people (Bone 2005, 157). (Material is taken nearly verbatim)

A properly paraphrased and cited sentence might look like the following:

  • Sixty-two percent of Canada’s population resides in just two provinces—Ontario and Quebec, which, in a population of 30+ million people, equates to almost 20 million people (Bone 2005, 157). This last example shows both an original contribution (a calculation of the total population in Ontario,Quebec) as well as material taken from another source and properly cited.

What is the difference?

  • First, it is cited. All ideas and information that is not common knowledge must be cited! In longer paragraphs, this may mean citing multiple times.

If you are using a number of sources, then you can cite these all at once, e.g. (Bone 2005, 157; Warkentin 1996, 386).

  • Second, it is in the paper writer’s own words!

If you can’t put an idea in your own words, put it in quotes. If you are relying too much on quotes, then you are not doing enough to digest, interpret, and present your own understanding of the materials.

Original text:

“A dry, continental climate prevails over the interior of Western Canada. Due to a combination of low annual precipitation and high summer temperatures, this zone has a ‘water deficit’. This zone’s low precipitation is primarily the result of eastward-moving Pacific air masses losing most of their moisture as they rise over the Cordillera’s mountain chains. By the time they descend the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, these moist air masses have turned into dry ones. As a result, the Prairies receive little rain or snow from the Pacific Ocean” (Bone 2005, 391).

The following are examples of plagiarism:

  1. By the time eastward-moving Pacific air masses descend the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, they turn into dry ones. (Most of this sentence is cut-and-pasted phrasing from the original text, and is not cited)
  2. Western Canada’s low precipitation totals are the result of eastward-moving Pacific air masses losing their moisture as they rise over the Cordillera’s mountain chains (Bone, 2005: 391). (Cited, but taken nearly verbatim)

A properly paraphrased and cited sentence might look like the following:

  • Bone (2005, 391) notes that much of the Western Canadian interior experiences “a dry, continental climate” due to “low annual precipitation and high summer temperatures.” The former results from orographic precipitation—which occurs as air masses are subject to falling temperatures as they move upslope—in the western Cordillera. The east side of the mountains, and therefore, fall within a ‘rain shadow’ and the Prairies receive little precipitation (Bone 2005; Rhodes 2005).

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