In academic work, it is necessary to cite sources. If someone else’s text, whether published or not, is used without proper citation, it is an act of plagiarism. This violation of academic integrity has serious consequences. Suspected plagiarism will be reported to the university’s disciplinary committee, which may lead to the suspension of the student.

It is the student’s responsibility to learn to cite sources properly. However, information and support are available from the course instructor, study advisor and director of studies as well as from Student Services.

The following advice and recommendations may be helpful in the prevention of plagiarism.

• Plagiarism refers to theft of the work of others. Thus it includes not only ideas, words and sentence structures but also methods, figures, tables, data, drawings, photos, computer programs and the like. It is important to remember to cite all sources.

• In addition to proper citation, quotation marks are necessary if the exact formulation of words is used from a source.  Exact quotations are not common in scientific texts and, if used, are kept short.  Direct translation from another language is still a direct quotation and requires quotation marks, proper citation of the original and citation of the translator. Translation plagiarism of this kind must be avoided.

• Instead of using direct quotation, students can reformulate the main ideas from another writer’s work in their own words if an accurate interpretation of the original is given along with proper citation. If several sentences from the original are summarized and paraphrased at the same time, the task becomes easier. An effective method for condensing the text and reformulating the ideas begins with building an entirely different sentence structure and in addition avoids repetition of the original’s non-technical words.

• Careless or misleading citation also constitutes plagiarism. For example, an in-text citation is properly included and the reference is given in the bibliography but information from the same source occurs elsewhere in the paragraph without citation. This is plagiarism.

• Another form of misrepresentation of sources involves a student’s own work. If a student’s text has been used to satisfy the requirements of one course, it should not be recycled in another course. The course leader should be consulted about any concerns or questions.

• As experience and knowledge increases, writing and paraphrasing skills will improve. In addition, the work will contain more of the student’s own ideas, explanations, evaluations and criticisms.

Example of plagiarism and correctly reformulated text:
Original text from Overduin et al. (2015):
Penetration of sulfate, serving as electron acceptor for anaerobic organic matter and methane oxidation, creates a capacity of the overlying unfrozen sediment column to oxidize released methane. Therefore, it is unlikely that thawing submarine permafrost is a substantial methane source for the overlying water column.

Plagiarized text (proper citation but failed paraphrase, nearly the same sentence structure, several repeated words and phrases):
Penetrating sulfate, as electron acceptor for anaerobic organic matter and methane oxidation, creates the possibility for the overlying unfrozen sediment column to oxidize released methane; it is therefore not likely that thawing submarine permafrost supplies substantial methane to the overlying water column (Overduin et al. 2015).

Correctly reformulated text (proper citation, correct summarizing and paraphrase): Overduin et al. (2015) conclude that methane released by subsea permafrost thaw is anaerobically oxidized with sulfate as electron acceptor, likely resulting in negligible supply of methane to the water column.

Overduin, P.P., Liebner, S., Knoblauch, C., Günther, F., Wetterich, S., Schirrmeister, L., Hubberten, H.-W., and M.N. Grigoriev (2015), Methane oxidation following submarine permafrost degradation: Measurements from a central Laptov Sea shelf borehole, J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci.120, 965-978.

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Department of Geological Sciences
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