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EMPOWER: Citing Sources: Plagiarism

Plagiarism

handcuffs
Plagiarius is the Latin word for kidnapper

When you work on a research paper you will probably find supporting material for your paper from works by others. It's okay to use the ideas of other people, but you do need to correctly credit them.

If you don't credit the author, you are committing a type of theft called plagiarism.

When you quote people -- or even when you summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles, or Web pages -- you must acknowledge the original author. It is plagiarism when you:

  • Buy or use a term paper written by someone else.
  • Cut and paste passages from the Web, a book, or an article and insert them into your paper without citing them. (Warning! It is now easy to search and find passages that have been copied from the Web).
  • Use the words or ideas of another person without citing them.
  • Paraphrase that person's words without citing them.

Plagiarism? It's Your Call!

Plagiarism ranges from copying word-for-word to paraphrasing a passage without credit and changing only a few words. Below is a sentence from a book, followed by its use in three student papers. For each student's version check the pull-down box to see if the passage would be considered plagiarism. *

Original Passage
Still, the telephone was only a convenience, permitting Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.1

1 Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (New York: Random House, 1973), 390.

 

Abbie
The telephone was a convenience, enabling Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

 


Brian
Daniel J. Boorstin argues that the telephone was only a convenience, permitting Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

 


Chad
Daniel J. Boorstin has noted that most Americans considered the telephone as simply "a convenience," an instrument that allowed them "to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before." 1

 


 

* - The excerpt, examples, and commentary in this section are from James M. McCrimmon and Webb Salmon, Writing with a Purpose (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976) 499.

Five Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

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  1. First, use your own ideas. This is your paper and your ideas should be the focus.
     
  2. Use the ideas of others sparingly--only to support or reinforce your own argument.
     
  3. When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use.
     
  4. Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
     
  5. Take 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. This will help you think through what you want to say and prevent you from being too dependent on your sources.