Thursday, January 27

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Letter to the Editor: Clarifying plagiarism

Daniel Krane, in his April 10 op-ed, draws attention to the alleged plagiarism in Justice Neil Gorsuch’s 2006 book “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” We do not intend to offer an opinion about whether the issue of plagiarism ought to have been a factor in determining Justice Gorsuch’s suitability for the Supreme Court of the United States, but in case the public discussion of his writing has caused any confusion, we write to clarify for Princeton students the University’s expectations about the proper citation of sources in work submitted to fulfill academic requirements.

Academic integrity is a bedrock value of our institution. The rules and conventions that govern academic honesty reflect the gravity with which we regard this most important principle. Violations are generally regarded as serious offenses. Accordingly, the University goes to great lengths to ensure that students are acquainted with their obligation to distinguish their own words and ideas from those of others.


“Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” defines plagiarism as “the use of any outside source without proper acknowledgment” in section 2.4.7. Students are obliged to cite their sources properly and to document the extent of their indebtedness to other authors. This obligation extends to phrases, ideas, facts, and formulas. Among other things, “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” in section 2.4.6 says, “Any sentence or phrase which is not the original work of the student must be acknowledged.”

We urge students with questions about proper citation practices to take advantage of the many resources available on campus. We suggest consulting with your instructors and preceptors, the staff at the Writing Center, and deans and directors of study in the residential colleges. We encourage all students to familiarize themselves with “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” (section 2.4.6) and “Academic Integrity at Princeton.”

As we move into the last quarter of the academic year, when students face many papers and other assignments, we’re happy to take this opportunity to clarify University citation expectations and to underscore the importance of careful and honest scholarship.

Kathleen Deignan, Dean of Undergraduate Students

Jill Dolan, Dean of the College