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Academic Integrity: Home

Academic Integrity

Why is academic integrity important?

Taking someone's words and thoughts is the same thing as taking their physical belongings.  Their intellectual property is protected by law, just as yours is.  Do you want someone taking credit for your words or ideas without your permission?  No way. So, don't take theirs.

The MICDS Middle School Handbook defines plagiarism as "knowingly using someone else's words or ideas without giving the author appropriate credit" (33).  It is a serious violation of the MICDS Honor Code. 

If you don't practice academic integrity and plagiarize, you could be disciplined at MICDS, kicked out of college, sued for copyright infringement, or fired from your job.

Then, of course, there is karma. If you rip someone off, you can be sure that someone will rip you off someday. Why set yourself up?  Even if you decide the universe won't catch up with you (and it's not nice to mess with the universe), you can be sure MICDS will.  The Middle School Handbook states,  "Students will receive guidance from their teachers during the course of the school year on how to meet general expectations for honest scholarship and research.  If a student plagiarizes others' material or ideas, she/he may receive and F on the assignment AND a red slip."


Question:  What is plagiarism?

Answer:     Stealing
  • It is illegal to copy someone else's work or ideas. Period.
  • If you plagiarize, you will face consequences.

Plagiarism Infographic

Simple Steps for Avoiding Plagiarism

1. Start your paper or project early. Good research takes time. It is also a messy process. Often there are lots of false starts and bumps along the way, so don't expect it to be quick. Don't try to cram in your research the night before it is due because then you might be tempted to plagiarize by using other people's ideas, words, sentence structure or paragraphing.

2. Create an outline to help you stay on track.

3. Use a good note taking system like NoodleTools, the MLA card system (remember, only one idea or fact per note card) or Cornell Note Taking System (Double Column Notes).  On each notecard or page, cite your source, including page numbers, so and your readers can find it again easily.  Keep your notes so you can show your teacher your efforts, thinking and sources if a question about plagiarism arises.

4. Always use quotation marks when using a direct quote.

5. Paraphrase properly.  Paraphrasing is not like playing Scrabble - rearranging the words in somebody else's sentence is STILL PLAGIARISM. Changing a few of the words with the help of a thesaurus is STILL PLAGIARISM.  Make sure you understand the author's ideas.  Paraphrase or summarize what the author said in your own words by extracting the information from the text and putting that information in bullet form.  When you are actually drafting your paper, look at the bulleted information and write the information in your own words.

6. Make sure your paper is your own original thinking, not just canned words. Give your brain a workout!

7. Be sure to create your works cited as you do your research.  Trying to recreate the work cited after you have finished writing your paper leads to inaccuracies. Cite all your sources. This means images and graphics, too. Sources need to be cited no matter whether you got them whether on the Internet or in printed material. Don't forget to cite your graphics in your PowerPoint or other presentations. It's so much easier to cite your source, then to forget to and pay later.

For more information on MLA citation, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

But I didn't think I was plagiarizing...

There are two kinds of plagiarizing Intentional and Unintentional. 

Intentional plagiarizing when you know you are doing something wrong but you do it anyway. Like:

  • Copying a friend’s work
  • Buying or borrowing papers 
  • Cutting and pasting blocks of text from online sources without documenting
  • “Borrowing” media without documentation

Unintentional plagiarizing is when you tried to do the right thing but didn't understand how to do it properly.  LIke:

  • Careless paraphrasing
  • Failure to use your own “voice”
  • A quote-heavy paper
  • Poor documentation

 When to Cite:

  • Quoting directly from a source
  • Using an original idea from one of your sources, whether you decide to quote, summarize or  paraphrase it
  • Using factual information that is not common knowledge (cite to be safe.)
  • Using a date or fact that might be disputed


  • Don’t use another person’s words, ideas, or catchy phrases without citing them.
  • Don’t use diagrams, music, code, photos, or other images without citing the source.
  • Don’t take a block of text and change only a few key words and think you are paraphrasing. You’re not.  Your plagiarizing. (Even if you cite it).