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Department Plagiarism Statement


Plagiarism is the deliberate or accidental misrepresentation of another's ideas or language as your own - it is intellectual theft. This includes deliberately handing in another's paper (or part of a paper) as your own, and not attributing proper credit for ideas or language for sections within a paper you write. That means that any idea or fact that you did not discover or invent firsthand must be cited, even if you put the idea or fact in your own words. Even if you have duplicated the development of an idea independently of someone else, you must provide credit to the original source. The only information you do not have to cite are things that are common knowledge - that is, something that any randomly selected person is very likely to know. In addition, any key ("apt") phrases that you use word-for-word from a source must be surrounded by quotation marks and cited, even if it is not a quote of dialogue or interview. Changing a few words in a sentence usually does not eliminate the need to use quotation marks - the standard applies to short phrases, and even the specific structure of writing.

You avoid plagiarism by giving proper credit to the source of the material, by providing a citation accompanied by quotation marks where appropriate.

College policy

The College considers plagiarism an act of academic dishonesty, whether it is committed intentionally or not. Faculty are required to report any instance of plagiarism severe enough to warrant a grade reduction to the appropriate Class Dean for disciplinary action. Since plagiarism is considered an act of academic dishonesty, the punishment is two semesters of academic probation. If another act of academic dishonesty is committed during probation, the punishment is expulsion. If a second act is committed after probation is ended, the penalty is two semesters of academic suspension. A third violation results in dismissal. See the College of the Holy Cross Catalog for a detailed description of the policy.

Avoiding plagiarism

Make sure to familiarize yourself with your instructor's plagiarism policy. Each faculty member has his or her own policy and standards. For example, different faculty members may require different citation styles, and may have different standards for what is considered "common knowledge." For example, what is considered "common knowledge" can depend on the audience of the paper. In addition, different faculty members may have different policies on collaborating with other students on work. While some faculty members may allow students to read the work of each other (or the work of students in previous years), it is an act of academic dishonesty for multiple students to use identical phrases. If you have any doubts or questions about what must be cited (and how), speak to your instructor. It is the student's responsibility to make sure he or she did not commit plagiarism.

In economics, we usually use parenthetical documentation of sources accompanied by a list of references at the end of the paper. The basic reference for this type of documentation is from the American Psychological Association (APA). In law, we usually use footnotes which contain the full citation. Make sure to check with your instructor to see which style is required for your paper.

There are a few ways to use parenthetical documentation. See the APA guidelines page for details on how to cite every type of source. One method is: at the end of a sentence that contains something that requires a citation, the author's last name and the date the work was published should be placed in parentheses at the end of a sentence. If a direct quote is used, the page number must be provided as well - page numbers are not otherwise required. The full citation must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper. Another method is to refer to the document by the author's name in the text, followed by the year of the publication, and page numbers if appropriate, in parentheses. Directly quoted phrases must have quotation marks around the phrase. Follow the form of the following examples:

  • Long-term interest rates are directly affected by inflation (Blinder 1996). "Price stability will almost certainly bring low long-term interest rates in its wake." (Blinder 1996 p. 5). Blinder (1996) suggests that long-term interest rates are directly affected by inflation.


If a long passage (e.g. up to a single paragraph) uses the same source, say so at the start or end of the passage. No further notes are need if it is clear that all information comes from this source. If in doubt, cite multiple times. For example:

  • Blinder (1996) argues that the Federal Reserve is indeed a democratic institution for the following reason. Since the Federal Reserve was created by an act of Congress, Congress (with the President's signature) may amend or even rescind the Federal Reserve charter at any time. Blinder (1996) argues this structure is sufficient to insure the Federal Reserve will not abuse its power.
  • The Federal Reserve System (Fed) is a system of twelve district banks, overseen by the Board of Governors. See Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1994) for an overview of Fed structure.


The references page at the end of the paper must supply all the information needed to find the source (for an article: author's name, title of article, name of journal, publication date (volume, number, day, month and year), and page numbers; for a book: author's name, title of book, publishing company, place published, year published). For an Internet source: author's name, title of document, title of complete work (if applicable), version or file number (if applicable), document date or date of last revision, Internet address, access path or directories, date of access by you. If the Internet source also has a print version, you can usually just cite the print version. On your references page, you should only include sources that you cite in your paper. The list must be alphabetized by author's last name. If you have multiple publications by a single author in a single year, refer to each in your citations and reference list with the suffix a, b, etc. (e.g. Blinder (1996a), Blinder (1996b)). If no single author is named, use the sponsoring or publishing institution as the author. Different instructors may require different styles, so make sure to follow your instructor's style. Again, see the APA for a complete listing of reference examples.


Article in a journal:
Blinder, Alan S. (1996), "Central Banking in a Democracy," Economic Quarterly (Fed-Richmond), Fall, pp. 1-14.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1994), Federal Reserve System Purposes and Functions, Washington, DC.: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Internet site:
Federal Reserve Bank of New York, (1998), "Understanding Open Market Operations,", accessed August 30, 1999.