According to plagiarism is defined as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work, as by not crediting the author.  Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.

Authors sometimes think of plagiarism as copying or borrowing another's work; use of these words to describe this activity misrepresents or masks the seriousness of this act. Simply put, plagiarism is fraud; plagiarism is a form of cheating that steals credit that is owed to another author. In instances where the intellectual property that was plagiarized was copyrighted, law protects the material. Many times, however, the plagiarized material was not copyrighted.  The act of plagiarism is not embodied in civil or criminal legal statutes; however, the consequences of plagiarizing material is an act of ethical wrong-doing that can lead to loss of integrity, credibility, and employment. Needless to say, plagiarism is not tolerated in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The following examples constitute plagiarism; the list is not exhaustive:

  • Submitting purchased intellectual property
  • Submitting someone else’s work as your own
  • Rough paraphrasing of another person’s written or spoken words
  • Not using quotations marks to designate a quotation
  • Using another’s intellectual property without proper citations, including, but not limited to: ideas, facts, statistics, graphs, drawings, lab results, and pictures
  • Lengthy paraphrasing within your work
  • Copying or pasting (content scraping) of internet materials into your work

Permitting others to use your work as their own is a breach of academic integrity in which both parties are guilty.


The department policy is consistent with that of the University:  “A Zero, or whatever is the equivalent of the lowest failing grade possible, shall be assigned for that piece of work to any student plagiarizing on a non-final piece of work. In the case of a student plagiarizing on a final research paper or project, an F shall also be assigned as the course grade. 

For repeated or aggravated offenses of cheating and or plagiarism, additional action, including dismissal from the University, may be taken pursuant to the Student Handbook procedures related to the University Judicial System and the disciplinary sanctions for violation of University regulations.”

How to Avoid Plagiarism 

Cite sources!  Many times plagiarism can be avoided by citing sources. Doing so provides your audience with the information necessary to find the source. The Graduate School at the University of Alabama-Birmingham has developed guidelines that when followed will help ensure academic integrity during the preparation of your assignments (Guidelines for Effective (& Ethical) Paraphrase;

  1. Read and understand the original source. Use a highlighter pen only if you are going to make notes also.
  2. Write the bibliographic information down carefully and completely.
  3. For Internet sources, print the Web pages you are using (as Web addresses frequently change), and note the date you accessed the page.
  4. Make notes, using words, phrases, or a short string of words. Do NOT copy sentences or long sections of text.
  5. Leave the material for a period of time, at least several hours and preferably several days.
  6. When you write your paper, use only the notes you have taken. Never write your paper looking directly at the original text. Absolutely never write your paper with photocopies of original texts in which sentences have been highlighted spread around you on a table or the floor.
  7. Place appropriate citations in your text to indicate sources.
  8. After writing a complete section such as a literature review, verify details included in your paper by using the original text.
  9. Add details or make other adjustments if what you have written misrepresents the original text.

Footnote Formatting 

Footnote formatting in chemical publications is often journal specific. Before writing a journal article, check the formatting requirements.

A good general source for formatting footnotes in chemical manuscripts is: Dodd, J. S., Ed. The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors, Second Edition, American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 1997. 

Electronic Plagiarism Checkers 

Before turning in an assignment, paper, or laboratory report, etc., we recommend that you use one of the resources listed below to check for potential plagiarism in your work.

Bradley University Library Resources 

  1. Harris, R. A. Using Sources Effectively: Strengthening Your Writing and Avoiding Plagiarism; Pyrczak Pub: Glendale, CA, 2011. Call Number: OVSIZE. LB2369.H37 2011
  2. Johnson, S.; Scott, J. Study and Communication Skills for the Biosciences; Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2009. QH315.J64 2009
  3. Himma, K. E.; Tavani, H. T. The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics; Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ, 2008. Call Number: QA76.9.M65 H36 2008
  4. Fox, T.; Johns, J.; Keller, S. Cite It Right: the Source Aid Guide to Citation, Research, and Avoiding Plagiarism, 3rd ed.; SourceAid LLC, Osterville, MA, 2007. Call Number: REF. PN171.F56 F69 2007
  5. Haviland, C. P.; Mullin, J. A. WHO OWNS THIS TEXT? Plagiarism, Authorship, and Disciplinary Cultures; Utah State University, Logan, UT, 2009, Call Number: PN 167.W46 2009
  6. Gallant, T. B. Creating the Ethical Academy. A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct and Empowering Change in Higher Education; Routledge, New York, NY, 2011, Call Number: LB 3609.C74 2011