What is Plagiarism?

An important part of the academic experience in the United States is an awareness and understanding of plagiarism. Different cultures attach different values to the importance of citation, and students should understand the consequences of plagiarism in the United States.

Plagiarism Explained

The concept of plagiarism is based on the concept of Intellectual Property, the notion that an idea can be owned by a person. Rightly or wrongly, this strongly informs plagiarism and why it is taken so seriously in the United States. To use another person’s words or ideas without crediting them is considered stealing.

U.S. academic conventions require everyone to explicitly give credit to others for their work. If someone else’s ideas or words are used in a paper, for example, the author must state where and from whom those words or ideas came. Failure to cite a source, even unintentionally, is considered plagiarism and could severely affect a student’s academic standing.


If a professor receives a paper that is guilty of plagiarizing, the consequences can be very serious, including failure from the course as a whole along with a referral to the Office of Student Support & Student Judicial Affairs (OSSJA). OSSJA is an office on campus whose mission is to encourage academic achievement while ensuring honest and fair practices. In addition, the campus may add an official notation of the plagiarizing offense to the student’s UC Davis transcript. To learn more about OSSJA and plagiarism, view their website and their guidelines for avoiding plagiarism.

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