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If you include someone else's materials or ideas in your own research, you must acknowledge the original author or creator. This not only includes quoting someone, but also putting the information in your own words or using someone else's ideas. In a report or research paper, this acknowledgement and documentation is usually called a citation.

Failure to provide citations to the source material is an unethical and illegal practice called plagiarism.

cartoon of a thief 
plagiarism - stealing sources or using  
information without giving credit to the author

It is NEVER okay to:

  • copy word for word from any source,
  • paraphrase (put into your own words) information from any source, or
  • use ideas from any source,

UNLESS you give the originator of the idea credit and document where these words or ideas came from. If it is an exact quotation, you must use quotation marks. If you are not quoting directly, you still need to note the source from which the material came.


The Contra Costa College Academic Honesty Policy

The following is an excerpt from the section of the Contra Costa College 2019-20 Catalog (pp. 18-19) that provides students with information on the college's academic honesty policy:


Students at Contra Costa College are expected to perform honestly and ethically in completing homework and class assignments. Students who are dishonest in the performance of classwork will be subject to disciplinary action. Students accused of being dishonest have the right to request a hearing by contacting the college president’s office.


To assist students to understand what behavior is considered dishonest and unethical, the following definitions are provided.

Plagiarism: Although difficult to define, plagiarism consists of taking the words or specific substance of another and either copying or paraphrasing the work without giving credit to the source.

The following examples are only some of the many forms plagiarism may take:

  1. Submitting a term paper, examination or other work written by someone else. This is a flagrant instance of plagiarism;
  2. Failure to give credit in a footnote for ideas, statements of fact or conclusions derived by another;
  3. Failure to use quotation marks when quoting directly from another, whether it be a paragraph, a sentence or even a part thereof;
  4. Close and extended paraphrasing of another.

Cheating: Using unauthorized notes, study aids or information from another student or student’s paper on an in-class examination; altering a graded work after it has been returned, then submitting the work for re-grading; and allowing another person to do one’s work and submitting the work under one’s own name.

Fabrication: Presenting data in a piece of work which were not gathered in accordance with guidelines defining the appropriate methods for collecting or generating data and failing to include a substantially accurate account of the method by which the data were generated or collected.

Aiding and abetting dishonesty: Providing material or information to another person with knowledge that these materials or information will be used improperly. Chapter One, General Information 19

Forgery, alteration or misuse of campus documents, records, or identification or knowingly furnishing false or incomplete information to a campus; altering documents affecting academic records; forging a signature of authorization; or falsifying information on an official academic document, election form, grade report, letter of permission, petition or any document designed to meet or exempt a student from an established college academic regulation.

Disciplinary Actions, Academic Dishonesty

If a student is found guilty of dishonest or unethical behavior in the completion of homework, class assignments or exams he or she is subject to disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may be mild or severe, ranging from a verbal or written reprimand, to probation, a grade reduction or no credit on the homework, class assignment or exam, to suspension, expulsion or dismissal from a course or from the college.

Hearing Procedures (Due Process)

A student who is disciplined because of dishonest behavior may request a hearing with the president and/or designees for a review of the facts of the matter and to present his or her perspective. The student must call or write the Contra Costa College president requesting a hearing within ten (10) days of notification of discipline.

Chapter 9 — Page 5