nalistic EssaysPlagiarism May Lead to Expulsion Plagiarism has all the connotations of a major felony, on par with conspiracy, terrorism, or cruelty to animals. Granted, more often than not plagiarism is committed unintentionally, with no ill will and no wish to mislead. But plagiarism is no less serious because of that. It’s a form of stealing: unconscious or not, theft is theft. At the most basic level, plagiarism is taking someone else’s ideas or words and presenting them as your own. Professors can smell intellectual pilfering like a dead fish, and students should do everything they can to avoid it.
The MLA Handbook recommends that you “document everything that you borrow–not only direct quotations and paraphrases but also information and ideas . . . . You must indicate the source of any appropriated material that readers might otherwise mistake for your own. If you have any doubt about whether or not you are committing plagiarism, cite your source or sources” (Gibaldi 29).
In other words, “better safe than sorry” may be a cliche, but it’s sound advice when it comes to documentation. Whether in an English essay, a Political Science paper, or a Social Work case study, plagiarism is immoral and dishonest. And most universities take it very seriously: plagiarism may result in a falling grade for a paper or a course, or even lead to expulsion from the university.