Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

Comp Lit Plagiarism Statement


Please read this section in its entirety. It constitutes a warning. It has been developed by colleagues in the English Department and has been adapted here by their permission. The fact of its wide dissemination will make any assertions of ignorance less convincing in the future.

Plagiarism has been committed when an assignment:

1. Does not properly attribute words or idea to a source. That is, even if you’re not quoting directly from a book you’ve read—a book that’s helped you formulate ideas for your paper—you should nevertheless footnote a book at the point in the text where that other author’s ideas helped shape your own essay. If pivotal terms or crucial turns in your argument derive to a significant extent from a conversation with a colleague or a point made in class, you should cite that conversation or class. If you look in the “Acknowledgements” section of almost any academic book (or in the footnotes of many academic articles), you will find models for occasions when this kind of citation is required. Acknowledgements signal that our ideas have grown from our work within a community. To fail to acknowledge the context for our ideas is in part to weaken that community.

2. Quotes from another author’s writing without citing that author’s work. This, of course, includes failing to cite material you take from the World Wide Web, as well as copying material from library books or your peer’s papers.

3. Cites, with quotation marks, portions of another author’s work, but uses more of that work without quotation marks and without attribution. This instance is the most common kind of plagiarism. If you’re taking material form a source and rehashing it slightly, but not giving citation for that rephrased materials, you’re still plagiarizing the work you’re representing as your own. If you citeand surround with quotation marks only some of the words you’ve taken from a source, you also commit plagiarism, since you’re taking words from another without fully acknowledging the extent of your borrowing. In an era of computer communities (on the internet and the World Wide Web), the whole idea of intellectual property is changing: cutting and pasting without acknowledgement may be more the norm than the exception. Turning to an electronic source rather than a printed source does not change the rules of citation and acknowledgement when you are submitting an essay for a course however. When you turn in a paper for a course, you are entering a research community that is still quite strict about attribution and use of material and ideas form others.

4. Takes a paper, in whole or in part, from a site on the Web or a “library” of already-written papers.

5. Steals a paper from another student and then submits that paper as coursework.

6. Submits the same paper twice for two different assignments.

7. Takes the results of another’s research and attempts to pass those results off as his or her own work. This includes “citing” material from sources that have been gathered by another author. You can, of course, cite materials that you have found in another published text, but your citation should specify where you found the material, rather than simply giving that material’s original source.

Special note: Plagiarism in translation courses and translation assignments

Please read this section carefully, to make sure you understand what constitutes plagiarism in translation courses and translation assignments. You may find it difficult to distinguish between your own translation and that of other translators. Plagiarism is often the result of ignorance rather than of an intent to cheat; once you know what the rules are, you are much less likely to break them by mistake.

There are multiple resources that you may use in preparing your translation, such as dictionaries (online or in books), online translation tools(e.g. Google Translate, Babelfish), translation software (e.g. Trados), community-source assistance (e.g. online listserves, forums, discussion groups), and existing translations (online or in print). While you are encouraged to use these helpful tools where relevant, it is important to acknowledge the sources you have used, and to recognize that they cannot replace your own work.

If you are confused or uncertain about acknowledging your sources, please consult first with the faculty member who gave you the assignment. For further questions or concerns, you can also make an appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature (2021 Tisch) to see the Translation Advisor.

If there is reason to believe that a passage in a translation assignment has been adopted verbatim from another source, you may be asked to complete a new translation of the same passage in your own words, or to translate another paragraph from the same text in the presence of an instructor.

If a translation has been completely or substantially adopted from another translator, you will receive a failing grade on your assignment and the instructor will follow department and LSA procedures for plagiarism.

In all cases of plagiarism, the Department follows University policy, described in full on the LSA website. In brief, here are the options:

1. The case may be resolved within the department. In this case, the instructor will meet with the student, inform the student of the allegation, showing evidence for the allegation. If the student accepts responsibility,

a. the instructor will notify the DUS (Director of Undergraduate Studies) of the incident.

b. the instructor will choose the appropriate penalty (e.g. a warning, remedial work, grade reduction, or failure on the assignment in question).

c. Per University policy, the case and its resolution must also be forwarded to the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education. No further disciplinary sanction will be imposed, but the report will remain in the student’s file.

2. If the case cannot be resolved within the department, or if the instructor chooses not to pursue resolution within the department, the case will be forwarded to the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education for investigation. Sanctions that may be imposed by the Assistant Dean include, but are not limited to: a letter of reprimand, additional academic work, community service, probation, suspension, expulsion, withholding of a degree.

Please understand that, in the intellectual community of the University, plagiarism is a form of stealing. If you have any questions at all about using other people’s work in your own writing, ask your instructor to explain. When in doubt, always acknowledge your sources!

Here are some helpful links prepared by the university. All of them are good as of August 2019. If a link doesn’t work, search for it by its title on the UM website.