In the United States and many other countries, one of the important markers of high academic standards is proper attribution (giving credit) for someone else’s ideas, thoughts, words, or methods of scholarship. Proper credit should be given in both oral and written contexts. Proper credit is:

  • When you use an actual sentence from a published article or unpublished essay, including print and digital material, you must put the sentence in quote marks and give a footnote or citation to indicate who said it. The citation should include full bibliographic information. (For further information about correct citation form, see Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations.)
  • When you paraphrase or summarize another person’s ideas, you must give a footnote or citation to indicate whose ideas they are and where you got them. (Or, in lecturing, make clear from whose ideas you are drawing.)
  • When you adopt a significant idea from someone else’s work, you must give a footnote or citation to indicate where you got the idea.
  • When you use a method developed by someone else, you must give a footnote or citation to indicate the source of the method.

When you fail to do this, it is considered plagiarism. Plagiarism can apply both to students and to faculty. Plagiarism is using someone else’s ideas, thoughts, words, or methods of scholarship as if they were your own and without giving proper credit to that person. Plagiarism is considered wrong because (1) it is ‘stealing’ another person’s ideas, methods, etc., and (2) it is ‘lying’ — representing something as your own when it is not yours. At PSR, as at many comparable graduate-level institutions, plagiarism is considered a serious offense.

  • Plagiarism includes failing to give citations in the examples above.
  • Plagiarism also includes copying another student’s exam or part of an exam or essay.

It is not plagiarism when you indicate clearly that you are summarizing someone else’s views in order to provide the context for an assessment or critique of those views, or to incorporate them into a larger project. In this case, you must indicate clearly that you are giving the views of someone else — e.g. by starting with “so-and-so argues that…” It is also not plagiarism to use a well-established idea that has been developed in multiple sources — e.g. to claim that God can be called “woman” as well as man is now sufficiently well established that it needs no attribution. Some phrases — e.g. “the personal is political” — are in such wide usage that sometimes we do not know where they originated; in such cases, it is acceptable to use them without attribution. However, the best scholarship will make every effort to give attribution where possible (e.g. to note that this phrase came from Robin Morgan).

Procedures and Penalties

Instances of suspected plagiarism will be reported to the Academic Dean (or, in the case where the Dean is suspected of plagiarism, to the President). Suspected plagiarism may be reported by either students or faculty. The Dean or President will assess the evidence and investigate in order to determine whether plagiarism has occurred.

PSR’s Plagiarism Policy applies to all PSR students and PSR faculty, including but not limited to adjunct and visiting faculty. In all cases of reported plagiarism, source information of what was plagiarized (such as the name of the article, textbook, author, or the original source of ideas) must be submitted at the time the case is reported to the Dean’s Office for at least one identified instance of plagiarism. Failure to comply with the policy may result in a re-evaluation of work accused of containing plagiarism by other PSR faculty and/or other administrators as assigned by the Dean or President.

In the Case of Students

When plagiarism has been substantiated, the faculty person shall inform the dean’s office (every instance of substantiated plagiarism must be reported to the dean’s office so that plagiarism can be monitored). The faculty member will discuss the plagiarism policy with the student and the student shall fail the assignment.

Additionally, the student will sign a letter stating that he/she has committed plagiarism, has received a warning, and is aware of the consequences. This letter will be re-signed each time the student has committed plagiarism. The letter will be kept in the student’s file.

If, when reporting student plagiarism to the dean’s office, it is discovered that it is the student’s second attempt at plagiarism, the faculty member, dean, and student shall meet together. The student will fail the course.

If a student plagiarizes a third time, the student shall be immediately expelled from the school.
The student will not be allowed re-apply to PSR for one year at minimum. If the student re-applies after one year, all documentation regarding instances of plagiarism and the institutional actions taken will be included in the admissions file for review. If the student is re-admitted, and one more confirmed instance of plagiarism occurs after re-admission, the student will be expelled again permanently with no option of returning.

In the Case of Faculty

If allegations of plagiarism appear to be substantiated, the faculty member has been charged with “action justifying dismissal,” and shall be dealt with according to the procedures described in the Faculty Manual. Faculty who serve on the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union are also subject to the plagiarism policies and procedures of the GTU.

Policy adopted by PSR Faculty September 2009

GTU Consortial Agreement Regarding Plagiarism
When a student from one GTU school is suspected of plagiarism in a course that the student is
taking at another GTU school, the following protocol will be followed:
1. The faculty member teaching the course will notify the dean of the faculty member’s school that the student has been suspected of plagiarism.
2. The dean of the faculty member’s school will notify the dean of the student’s school that the student has been suspected of plagiarism.
3. The faculty member will follow the policy of his or her own school in regard to possible consequences within the context of the course (e.g., failing grade on the assignment, failing grade for the course, etc.).
4. The student’s school will be responsible for following its own policy in regard to possible consequences beyond the context of the course (e.g., warning, academic probation, expulsion, etc.)Approved by the Council of Deans, April 2010