Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Plagiarism in Technical Reports and other Written Submissions

If any part of a document you submit for credit towards your degree is not entirely your own work and you do not make it clear in the document that this is the case, then you have committed plagiarism and, if discovered, will be punished. The following are some specific points you should take note of:

  • If ideas are taken from other sources, you must make it clear by citing the source, e.g. a journal paper, a book, another report. This must be done even if the ideas are re-written in your own words. If you include unpublished ideas from a colleague then you should make reference to an "unpublished communication" and give credit to your colleague.
  • If actual phrases or sentences are copied from another source, you must place them in quotes or use some other mechanism to show that the words are not your own. It is NOT enough just to cite the source.
  • If measured or computed results (e.g. numbers, graphs, tables) included in your document were not obtained entirely by you, you must say so and give the source of the results.
  • If your document asserts or implies that results were obtained with something you have built on your own, and this is partially or entirely untrue, then you have committed plagiarism. This applies to both hardware and software. For example, if you copied or modified a computer program written by someone else, you must make this clear in your document.
  • Any parts of your document that are the result of collaboration with another person must be clearly indicated.
  • It is generally acceptable (in fact, desirable) to have another person (or a computer) proofread your document and correct spelling, grammar and typographical errors. If that person does more than make minor corrections, however, he or she must be duly credited in the document, e.g. if someone rewrites whole sentences or translates your report from another language into English.

These are the commonest forms of plagiarism. There may be others; if in doubt, or if any part of the above is not clear to you, consult the Associate Chairman or the instructor to whom you are submitting a document. Ignorance or misunderstanding of what constitutes plagiarism is not a valid excuse.

J. P. Webb
Associate Chairman (Undergraduate Affairs)
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

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