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Fair Use and Academic Honesty

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Be forthright in crediting the contribution of others to your work

Academic honesty is central to Howard Community College’s mission, and students are encouraged to know about it, practice it in their work and encourage it in fellow students. In the college catalog, HCC recognizes “the development of ethical judgment as an integral part of one’s education and supports the integration of ethical issues into the core curriculum”. In short, as an HCC student, you are expected to learn about ethics and do ethical work here.

Here's a tip sheet that can assist you in better using your own words when you write and avoiding plagiarism in your work. One of our HCC professors, Dr. Jim Bell, developed this great tips for students:

  1. Read the relevant information two or three times. Close the source and say in your own words the essence of the material. Then write the meaning in your own words. Open the source to see if you have the correct meaning and have used your own words.
  2. Review the original source for relevant information that you might have overlooked. By including this information your answer will be a better answer and give you more possibilities for putting together different words.
  3. Analyze the source for the key terms. Then think of other ways to say the same thing. Attempt to integrate information from several sentences into one sentence using your own words.
  4. Reorganize your summary. Don't use the source's organization. Pull together related material and put the ideas into your own words.
  • Plagiarism

    Plagiarism, the borrowing of another's ideas or words without crediting the author, is the most common cause of failed research papers. Any information that is borrowed form another source must be cited as a reference. If it is not, that's plagiarism.

    Sometimes plagiarism is blatant. For instance, copying another student's paper or copying an author's words or ideas and passing them off as your own are both examples of intentional plagiarizing. This is a serious offense because it is equivalent to stealing; in this case, it is stealing thoughts and words. However, the more common type of plagiarism is unintentional. Students frequently summarize or paraphrase a source without giving credit to the author; this is also plagiarism. Even though the student does not intend to steal the ideas or words, the offense is just as serious as blatant plagiarism.

    At Howard Community College, plagiarism is taken very seriously, and the penalties for plagiarism are harsh. For the first offense, the student receives an "F" grade on the assignment and his/her name is forwarded to the division chairperson. Then, the vice president of Student Services will notify the student in writing of the consequences of this infraction. For the second offense, the student receives and "F" grade for the course and is dropped form the course and barred from further class participation. The division chairperson forwards the name to the vice president of Student Services who will meet with the student. A third offense "will result in disciplinary action as determined by the Student Judicial Process" (Student Handbook).

    To avoid plagiarism, be sure to specify the sources of all borrowed materials. All summaries, paraphrases, and quotations must be documented.

  • How to Document

    Documentation Resources

    APA Format

    This handout from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab is based on The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (4th edition).

    MLA Format

    From the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, this handout includes sections from The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (3rd Edition).


  • Fair Use

    With so many resources available to you online, it is necessary to consider the ethical and legal guidelines of using others’ written work. The term “fair use” has generally been defined as the right to use copyrighted works in a reasonable manner without consent of the author. Without giving credit to your sources and using documentation in your writing, you are in danger of being academically dishonest which can lead to serious penalties. College faculty or staff who “fair use” copyrighted works must consider in advance the applicability of the following four statutory factors in making a fair use analysis.

    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The library facilitates use of copyrighted works by HCC personnel. When copyrighted works are submitted for duplication, they must be accompanied by a completed copyright release form, which may be obtained from the library, and a copy of any letter of permission received. However, if the instructor decides the duplication falls within a copyright exception such as fair use, the instructor will check this section on the copyright release form.

    For assistance determining a copyright exception, such as fair use, or obtaining copyright permission to use a copyright work, contact the director of the library, who serves as the designated copyright officer.

  • Academic Honesty

    Academic honesty refers to the use of one's own thoughts and materials in the writing of papers, taking of tests, and other classroom related activities. Students intentionally aiding other students in any infraction of the academic honesty policy are considered equally guilty.

    Students are expected to give full credit for the borrowing of other's words or ideas. Intentional or unintentional use of another's words or ideas without acknowledging this use constitutes plagiarism.

    There are four common forms of plagiarism:

    1. The duplication of an author's words without quotation marks and accurate references or footnotes.
    2. The duplication of an author's words or phrases with footnotes or accurate references, but without quotation marks.
    3. The use of an author's ideas in paraphrase without accurate references or footnotes.
    4. Submitting a paper in which exact words are merely rearranged even though they are the same is misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is the submission of materials for evaluation that are not the student's own.
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