Learn to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism. These guidelines, resources, and tips can help you produce work with academic integrity.
Harvard Summer School advocates the active exchange of ideas, including course content and independent research, among faculty and students. When submitting assignments for credit, all work submitted must be your own and created specifically for each course. The only exceptions are instructor-assigned group projects and pre-approved dual submissions. In either of these cases, you must follow explicit procedures (see the policies on inappropriate collaboration and duplicate assignments under Student Responsibilities).
When crafting written assignments you are required to follow standard academic guidelines for proper citation (e.g., APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style). You must distinguish your own ideas and language from information derived from sources. Do not, intentionally or unintentionally, incorporate facts, ideas, or specific language taken from another source without citation.
You are responsible for understanding Harvard Summer School policies on academic integrity and how to use sources responsibly. Not knowing the rules, misunderstanding the rules, running out of time, submitting “the wrong draft,” or being overwhelmed with multiple demands are not acceptable excuses. There are no excuses for failure to uphold academic integrity.
Resources to Support Academic Integrity
Harvard University, in general, and Harvard Summer School, in particular, offer resources to support your understanding of academic integrity and responsible use of sources.
The Writing Center
The Harvard Summer School Writing Center is open to all registered Summer School students, whether you are studying on campus or online. The Writing Center is staffed by trained tutors (Harvard undergraduates and graduate students) who provide individual conferences to students working on any writing assignment. Tutors are also available for consultations on college application essays and graduate school application essays.
The Harvard Guide to Using Sources
The Harvard Guide to Using Sources offers essential information about the use of sources in academic writing. To receive the most benefit, read the guide from beginning to end. You will gain a deep appreciation for why and how we use sources in academic writing and the ethical implication of improper citation. The guide is your must-consult resource throughout your time at Harvard Summer School. It offers time-saving, step-by-step advice on how to properly integrate sources into your academic writing.
To support your commitment to academic integrity two 15-minute online tutorials are available as companions to The Harvard Guide to Using Sources.
The tutorials are anonymous open-learning tools, not evaluation tools. While they take the form of yes-or-no and true-or-false exams, they are resources for you to use without the concern about passing or failing. You may need to complete the tutorials several times before you can answer all the questions confidently and correctly. Feel free to retake them as many times as you wish.
In the first tutorial, Using Sources, Five Scenarios, you work through examples based, in part, on real academic honesty cases. Upon completing the tutorial, you are acquainted with the most common misunderstandings about academic integrity, and you know more about how to integrate sources responsibly into your writing.
You are then be ready for the second tutorial, Using Sources, Five Examples. The examples, which are based on passages from real student essays, illustrate problems with summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting sources. By taking the tutorial, you gain a deeper understanding of the most common forms of plagiarism and a solid sense of how to use sources effectively.
Links to The Harvard Guide to Using Sources are provided throughout each tutorial. The guide offers a comprehensive discussion of issues relevant to academic integrity. Clicking on the links gives you an opportunity to further develop your knowledge of how to use sources—and it helps you avoid the kinds of problems that can lead to a charge of plagiarism and a required withdrawal from the Harvard Summer School.
Tips For Avoiding Plagiarism
- All sources must be cited, including print books and scholarly articles, but also anything you borrow to craft your assignment. This includes primary sources, such as letters, diaries, federal documents, music, and films. Also include secondary sources, such as online books, online articles, websites, instructor’s lectures, and open source websites with no identifiable author, like Wikipedia. If you didn’t write it, cite it.
- Be sure you understand the assignment. Read the directions carefully to learn if your instructor wants you to use outside sources for an assignment. If your instructor doesn’t, don’t. Once you start surfing the web for ideas, it is more difficult to distinguish your thoughts and words from online sources. If your instructor does want you to use outside sources, clarify the citation style (e.g., MLA or APA).
- Give yourself plenty of time to succeed. Don’t take on too much or procrastinate. When you are overwhelmed with multiple demands or run out of time, you can be tempted to hand in an assignment that is not cited properly. The consequences of plagiarism are far greater than the consequences of handing in an assignment late or not at all.
- When using sources in academic writing, be methodical, not haphazard. Always—starting with the first draft—include the reference information when you are adding quoted or paraphrased material in your paper. Adding sources is not the final cleanup activity; it is an essential first step.
- When writing an academic paper, you are joining an intellectual conversation, not observing one. The goal is not to string a bunch of quotes from experts together, but to actively engage with the material and to add your unique voice.