Academic dishonesty in any form is a violation of the NPS honor code, and is taken very seriously by the university. Basic policy governing this issue is described in NAVPGSCOLINST 5370.4B (Enclosure 4: Honor Code Violation Report). The discussion that follows is intended to supplement that basic policy. NSA faculty report all cases of cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty to NSA department authorities. Based on the severity of the violation appropriate disciplinary action will always be taken. This can include informal counseling, a failing grade on a test or paper, failing a course, the denial of a graduate degree, documentation in your officer performance report, and other non-judicial punishment. Ignorance of relevant rules and policies is no defense in the event of an infraction.
Cheating and Other Dishonest Conduct
The Department of National Security Affairs requires that all the work (including rough drafts) that you present to faculty members for comment and evaluation must, in all substantial respects, be your own; and also that nothing be done to compromise the integrity of other students’ work, or the academic functioning of the department. The following conduct is, accordingly, manifestly dishonest and categorically unacceptable:
- Offering another person's work as if it were your own.
- Using unauthorized materials, prepared answers, written notes or concealed information during an in-class examination, except as authorized by the instructor.
- Allowing others to do the research and writing of an assigned paper, including use of the services of a commercial term-paper company.
- Copying from others during an examination.
- Deliberately allowing others to copy off of your work during an examination.
- Communicating answers to other students during an examination.
- Taking an examination for another student, or allowing someone else to take an examination for you.
- Sharing answers or collaborating in the completion of a take-home examination or assignment, unless specifically authorized by the instructor.
- Stealing or attempting to steal an examination or answer key from the instructor.
- Tampering with an examination after it has been corrected, then returning it for more credit.
- Submitting substantial portions of the same work for credit in more than one course without consulting all the instructors involved.
- Changing or attempting to change academic records without proper sanction.
- Forging add/drop/change cards and other enrollment documents, or altering such documents after signatures have been obtained.
- Intentionally disrupting the educational process in any manner.
Any work that appears with your name on it as the author is expected to reflect your own independent effort and judgment. This expectation of independence does not mean, however, that your work will be unrelated to the work of others. On the contrary, all scholars try to learn from each other, in order to improve their own understanding, and to locate their work within the larger work of their discipline and the academy generally. Scholarship is ultimately a collective enterprise, which nevertheless places a high premium on individual accomplishment. It imposes two fundamental requirements on those who participate in it. First, you must be able to show the evidence that has led you to believe what you believe, in a way that allows others to locate and evaluate that evidence themselves. Second, you must give proper credit for ideas, information, and any other substantive feature of your work that you have derived from the work of others. The practice of citation via foot- or endnotes exists to satisfy these two most basic norms of academic life.
Plagiarism refers to a range of practices that contradict these norms. The word itself derives from the Latin word for “theft,” and refers to the presentation of another person’s work as if it were your own. Plagiarism in its most basic form means the use of someone else’s words, without quotation marks or citation; but the concept applies with equal force to other media, including pictures, graphics, mathematical calculations, and all other forms of intellectual or artistic expression.
In addition to the outright theft of words, images, and so on, there are other ways in which the work of another person can be misappropriated. The American Historical Association’s “Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct” describes the range of possibilities:
Plagiarism includes more subtle abuses than simply expropriating the exact wording of another author without attribution. Plagiarism can also include the limited borrowing, without sufficient attribution, of another person's distinctive and significant research findings or interpretations. … More subtle abuses include the appropriation of concepts, data, or notes all disguised in newly crafted sentences, or reference to a borrowed work in an early note and then extensive further use without subsequent attribution. Borrowing unexamined primary source references from a secondary work without citing that work is likewise inappropriate. All such tactics reflect an unworthy disregard for the contributions of others.
It is obvious that it is not possible to identify the source of all the facts or ideas that may be incorporated into your work. None of us was born knowing what we know now, nor do we necessarily recall how we came to know it—though, in the conduct of research, keeping track of such things is an essential obligation. Poor note-taking, which fails to identify sources correctly, or to take specific note of passages that are copied verbatim, is one of the most common reasons for inadvertent plagiarism.
The use of another person’s words as if they were your own is, under the most generous interpretation, symptomatic of extreme carelessness. If extensive or recurring, such conduct must be regarded as evidence of systematic dishonesty. Avoiding less egregious forms of plagiarism, like those described in the passage quoted above, is ultimately a matter of judgment. Information, concepts, and interpretations that are part of the common property of a scholarly field, such as one might find in textbooks, encyclopedia articles, or other works designed to provide basic information for non-experts, normally do not require citation.
Information that is well known to students of subject need not be cited, even it is not “common knowledge” among the general public. It is not necessary, for instance, to document the claim that the United States sought to freeze Japanese dollar-denominated assets in the summer of 1941, a fact that anyone familiar with the origins of the Pacific War will know. Nor is it necessary to cite information that is widely available from a number of sources, even if the information may not be readily recallable by specialists (e.g. the date of Napoleon Bonaparte’s first marriage). Famous phrases from works of art (“To be or not to be”) or other canonical texts (“Four score and seven years ago”), which have for all intents and purposes become part of language, require no citation. Recent or distinctive findings or interpretations always require citation , however, regardless of where you find them. So does factual information that is not widely available from multiple sources.
Whenever you make use of another person’s distinctive ideas, information, or words, you must give credit. If a passage is quoted verbatim, it must be set off with quotation marks (or, if it is a longer passage, presented as indented text), and followed by a properly formulated citation. The length of the phrase does not matter. If someone else’s words are sufficiently significant to be worth quoting, then accurate quotation followed by a correct citation is essential, even if only a few words are involved.
A citation is also required if you paraphrase or summarize someone else’s work. Note, however, that if you paraphrase or summarize a text you must convert its substance into your own words, not merely change a few words here and there while leaving the rest intact; and you must still cite the source you have used, even though you are not quoting the original language.
In the video below, Dr. Eric Dahl explains many of the common issues related to proper citation and how to address them.
The web also offers excellent resources to assist you in understanding plagiarism and learning to avoid it. The following sites are especially helpful:
- The Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Texas provides an excellent brief discussion ( here ), including a link to a downloadable Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism prepared by the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides a more detailed treatment ( here ).
- The Political Science Department at Boston College has developed a self-scoring quiz that can help you learn to identify and avoid plagiarism. This quiz is highly recommended.
- Indiana University's Writing Tutorial Services site ( here ) has an excellent discussion that includes illustrations of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrase.
Most guidebooks designed to improve student research and writing include advice and rules for avoiding plagiarism. See, for instance:
- Lynn Quitman Troyka, Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers , 6th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2002).
- Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).
- Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1995).
Finally, when in doubt, ask your instructors and advisors for assistance.
Consultation in the Preparation of Master's Theses and Research Papers
In writing a Master's thesis you are allowed, as a matter of department policy, to consult with other people and (within limits) seek their assistance. The same is true in the preparation of research papers for courses, unless forbidden by the professor. In order to execute independent projects of this kind you may find it necessary to ask librarians and others for advice and assistance in obtaining necessary materials. It may also be useful to discuss your ideas with other students, or with faculty members other than your course instructor or thesis advisors. You may want to seek the help of a typist or copyeditor in preparing the final manuscript—a particularly common practice among students whose native language is not English. Except when specifically ruled out by a course instructor, all such conduct is legitimate, provided it does not compromise the authorial integrity of the work being submitted. You are solely responsible for the entire contents of anything that bears your name as the author. It must be your own work, with credit given where it is due to others.
Take-home examinations are employed to allow appropriately complex problems to be incorporated into tests intended for advanced students. The principles governing academic integrity in the completion of such examinations are more stringent than those that apply to research papers or Master's theses. Absent explicit guidance to the contrary from the course instructor, the following basic rules apply:
- You must complete take-home examinations without help from anyone. You are not allowed to discuss your ideas, methods, arguments, or conclusions with other people, including people unconnected with NPS, until after the examination is submitted for grading.
- Even if the ground rules for an examination permit you to consult published materials in preparing your answer, you are not allowed to ask a librarian, a friend, an editor, a staff member, or another faculty member to recommend material for you to consult.
- You are not allowed to use unpublished material in preparing answers to a take-home examination, including course papers written by other students, even if the paper was written for a different course.
- Your examination cannot be typed, proofread, or edited by another person.
Breaches of these standards, regardless of how they may occur, are your responsibility. If you have any doubt about the ground rules for a take-home examination, you should ask the instructor for clarification before beginning your work.
1. Available online at http://www.historians.org/PUBS/Free/ProfessionalStandards.cfm ; the quoted passage is from section 4.
(Last updated 8 April 2014)