Skip to Main Content

Academic Honesty and Integrity

A guide to understanding plagiarism

People often assert that they know what plagiarism is — and then go on to plagiarize because they do not fully understand what constitutes plagiarism or how to avoid it. There are simple and obvious cases, of course, such as submitting another person's paper as your own work. However, “plagiarism” covers a wide range of activities, and as Turabian's Manual for Writers (9th ed.) says, “many inexperienced researchers fail to realize that they risk being charged with plagiarism even if they were not intentionally dishonest but only misinformed or careless“ (2018, 81).

The library offers this guide to clarify expectations regarding academic honesty in writing, with examples. The guide is not meant to teach source citation specifics (such as, how to write a footnote, or the correct format for a bibliography). For such guidance, readers should consult Turabian's Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations or (for more complicated concerns) the Chicago Manual of Style. (See below for more information.)

Seminary statement on Academic Honesty & Integrity

Wesley Theological Seminary considers plagiarism as a serious offense which will result in substantial penalties, including the possibility of academic dismissal. Students are expected to comply with all standards for academic honesty and integrity, both of the seminary and of the classes in which students are enrolled. The seminary regards the following as forms of plagiarism or academic dishonesty:

  • copying from another student’s work
  • giving or receiving unauthorized assistance to or from another student during an examination
  • using unauthorized material during an examination
  • borrowing and presenting as one’s own (i.e., without proper attribution) the composition or ideas of another.
  • copying material from any sources, whether print or online.

The mutilation, defacement, or stealing of library materials are examples of academic dishonesty and/or professional misconduct and are also subject to disciplinary action.

All work submitted must be the work of the student submitting. Work from other sources must be thoroughly paraphrased or indicated as a direct quotation. In either case, the source of the material must be cited. Students are referred to the most current edition of Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers for instructions on source citations.

When you're using someone else's work in your own writing, pay attention to these three questions:

  1. Are you adequately paraphrasing or clearly quoting someone else's words? Paraphrase and quotation refer to how you render another person's words in your own writing. Paraphrase is when you sufficiently recast a text so that you are presenting the same ideas in your own words and language. However, quotation practices make clear (e.g., through quotation marks or a block quotation) that language in the text is not your own.
  2. Are you citing your source(s)? Source citation is the use of specific methods (i.e., footnotes, endnotes, and/or parenthetical notes) to indicate the sources from which various ideas or claims in your writing originate.
  3. Are you making it clear your ideas or facts derive from another authority? Attribution language is when you make clear in your writing that your ideas or facts derive from another authority. (For example, “According to Turabian's Manual for Writers…”) Attribution language may be necessary less often than the first two factors, but it is still important.

The occasional mishap in applying any of these three may be understandable and/or correctable. Continuous, repeated, and/or widespread neglect of these practices is problematic and can easily lead to plagiarism charges. Academic writing which neglects all three practices is indefensible. These practices relate to all academic (and professional) writing, whether you're preparing a sermon, biblical exegesis, reflection paper, or any other class assignment, and it doesn't matter whether your original source is a website, an article, or a book. 

This guide will clarify and explain how to work with paraphrase/quotation, source citation, and attribution language in your writing.

Note: The examples used throughout this guide are based on an except from a fictitious book devised specifically for this purpose, Christianity in Early Medieval England, by Reginald Smith (Oxford, 1899). 

For more information…

For more information about avoiding plagiarism, see Kate Turabian's Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (9th ed.), section 7.9 (“Guard against Inadvertent Plagiarism”). 

Kate Turabian (1893–1987) wrote A Manual for Writers as a student-friendly version of the Chicago Manual of Style, which is an authoritative style guide for academic writing and publishing. Turabian's work offers helpful information for research and writing academic papers, including extensive discussion of the research and writing process, as well as instructions and examples for source citations. (How do I construct a footnote for a book or a journal article? How do I cite a website? Are footnotes and bibliography items formatted differently? etc.). The Chicago Manual of Style addresses publication needs and offers guidance for more technical citation questions.

The University of Chicago Press regularly updates both Turabian's work and the Chicago Manual of Style. Turabian's Manual is available (in print) at the Library, but you are encouraged to acquire your own copy. You can find an online Turabian Quick Guide, and the Library also subscribes to the Chicago Manual of Style Online. (See the links in the sidebar.)


4500 Massachusetts Avenue, NW | Washington DC 20016 | 202-885-8695 |