Original Source Excerpt
Such savvy borrowing may be lost on some educators, but others, like librarians, are catching up. “Students are finding it so easy to use these sources that they will dump them in the middle of the papers without any attribution,” says John Ruszkiewicz, an English professor at Texas. “What they don’t realize is how readily [professors] can tell the material isn’t the student’s and how easy it is for instructors to search this material on the Web” (434).
Student Version A—Plagiarism:
Students borrowing from the Web may be lost on some educators, but some teachers and librarians are catching up. Some students use chunks of other sources right in the middle of their papers without citations. But what these students often don’t realize is how easily professors can tell the material isn’t the student’s and how the instructors can easily search and find this material on the Web too.
This paraphrase is an example of plagiarism because the student uses many of the same phrases as the original passage and the same overall style and structure as the original author with just a few substitution words or phrases (without using any quotation marks and without citations).
Student Version B—Attempted Paraphrase—But Still Plagiarism:
According to Mark Clayton, students borrowing from the Internet may be missed by some teachers, but others are catching it. Students find it easy to use these sources and will put them in their papers without citations or credit. However, they don’t realize that professors can tell the material isn’t the student’s and that it is easy for them to search the web and find this material too.
This paraphrase is an example of “accidental” plagiarism because the student has combined a couple sentences, substituted a few words, but still has used the same overall structure with minor substitutions and has given a nod to the original author with a tagline but still does not have a proper parenthetical citation anywhere in the paraphrase.
Student Version C—Appropriate Paraphrase—Not Plagiarism:
According to Mark Clayton's article, "A Whole Lot of Cheatin' Going On," many students are using the Internet to research sources on topics they write about, but they are using these sources in their papers without giving any credit to the original authors. Clayton also points out that teachers and librarians are figuring out what's going on and can recognize when it is not the student's own work. Furthermore, teachers can find the sources themselves on the Internet and prove that the student has plagiarized (434).
This student has paraphrased using his or her own words and sentence constructions, and the student has accurately reflected the author's ideas and cited him correctly both with a tag and a parenthetical citation.
Content in this “Examples of attempted paraphrasing” section is reused with permission from Sims, Marcie. The Write Stuff: Thinking Through Essays. Upper Saddle River : Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.
To avoid plagiarism writers must be aware of three concerns: ethical, legal, and methodological.
Every time you use another person’s words or thoughts, you have both a legal and ethical obligation to give that person (also called a source) credit. To fulfill those obligations you must know the methods by which to correctly credit that source. That means using a specific documentation style or format (the most common being MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style). Thus, avoiding plagiarism starts with being aware of what it is and then taking the precautions necessary to document and cite all the sources, even if the writers just gained an insight or idea from another person.
Here are some helpful tips:
Take careful notes and mark direct quotes and summarized ideas with the page numbers they came from.
In the process of searching for secondary sources, especially when using the Internet, you should be sure to take detailed notes about the source information of any piece you are even considering using in your paper.
Make sure to use your own words and sentence constructions and even your own style when you paraphrase or summarize the ideas of others. You still need to credit the original source clearly to avoid plagiarism.
Many students intentionally cheat and copy ideas or words without giving credit to the original author. Some students, though, are guilty of just being unaware of the rules for citing sources or maybe even of dismissing that nagging feeling that they might be improperly using other people’s ideas. You should never try to claim lack of awareness as an excuse. Since you are in college now, as a writer, you must be responsible and scholarly and always give credit for others’ ideas or words. You are stealing someone else’s intellectual property when you plagiarize. It is a serious offence with serious consequences.
Content in this “Tips for avoiding plagiarism” section is reused with permission from Sims, Marcie. The Write Stuff: Thinking Through Essays. Upper Saddle River : Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.