• Academic Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism
    from the University of Kanasas Writing Center:

    Words are very powerful. Therefore, it is important to use them truthfully, accurately, and responsibly. Statements should be accurate both in terms of how information is managed and how it is credited

    Credit Where credit is Due

    Sometimes writers are uncertain when to give credit. Use research procedures as your guideline: Who or what is the original source that another researcher should contact to clarify information appearing in your writing? As you write, note that:

    • agreeing with the material that someone else wrote does not make it your own.
    • rearranging words from someone else's prose does not change the fact that it is not your own work.
    • writing a paper that consists of numerous quotations strung together does not qualify as one's own work. The fact that there are quotation marks and citations is not a substitute for the requirement that a piece of work is to be a product of the writer's own mind.

    "Academic Integrity." KU Writing Center.  Univesity of Kansas. 20 June 2006

    Is It Plagiarism Yet?


    from Purdue Online Writing Lab:

    There are some actions that can almost unquestionably be labeled plagiarism. Some of these include buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper (including, of course, copying an entire paper or article from the Web); hiring someone to write your paper for you; and copying large sections of text from a source without quotation marks or proper citation.

    But then there are actions that are usually in more of a gray area. Some of these include using the words of a source too closely when paraphrasing (where quotation marks should have been used) or building on someone's ideas without citing their spoken or written work. Sometimes teachers suspecting students of plagiarism will consider the students' intent, and whether it appeared the student was deliberately trying to make ideas of others appear to be his or her own.

    However, other teachers and administrators may not distinguish between deliberate and accidental plagiarism. So let's look at some strategies for avoiding even suspicion of plagiarism in the first place.


    When Do We Give Credit?


    The key to avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where it is due. This may be credit for something somebody said, wrote, emailed, drew, or implied. Many professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), have lengthy guidelines for citing sources. However, students are often so busy trying to learn the rules of MLA format and style or APA format and style that they sometimes forget exactly what needs to be credited.


    Documention Needed

    No Documentation Needed

    Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium

    Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject

    Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing

    When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments

    When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase

    When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.

    When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials

    When you are using "common knowledge," things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)

    When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media

    When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment, including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact.

    ***Bottom line, document any words, ideas, or other productions that originate somewhere outside of you.

    Stoley, Karl, Ed.  "Avoiding Plagiarism: Is It Plagiarism Yet?"  The Owl at Purdue: Purdue Online Writing Lab.  Purdue University. 
         12 May 2006.   20 June 2006  <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/02/ >

    Deciding if Something is "Common Knowledge"


    Generally speaking, you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources. Additionally, it might be common knowledge if you think the information you're presenting is something your readers will already know, or something that a person could easily find in general reference sources. But when in doubt, cite; if the citation turns out to be unnecessary, your teacher or editor will tell you.


    Safe Practices

    Most students, of course, don't intend to plagiarize. In fact, most realize that citing sources actually builds their credibility for an audience and even helps writers to better grasp information relevant to a topic or course of study. Mistakes in citation and crediting can still happen, so here are certain practices that can help you not only avoid plagiarism, but even improve the efficiency and organization of your research and writing.


    Best Practices for Research and Drafting

    New Cell


    Action During the Writing Process

    Appearance on the finished product
    Researching and Note-Taking
    • Mark everything that is someone else’s words with a big Q (for quote) or with big quotation marks
    • Indicate in your notes which ideas are taken from sources (S) and which are your own insights (ME)
    • Record all of the relevant documentation information in your notes


    Proofread and check with your notes (or photocopies of sources) to make sure that anything taken from your notes is acknowledged in some combination of the ways listed below:

    • In-text citation
    • Footnotes
    • Bibliography
    • Quotation marks
    Interviewing and Conversing
    • Take lots of thorough notes; if you have any of your own thoughts as you're interviewing, mark them clearly
    • If your subject will allow you to record the conversation or interview (and you have proper clearance to do so through an Institutional Review Board, or IRB), place your recording device in an optimal location between you and the speaker so you can hear clearly when you review the recordings. Test your equipment, and bring plenty of backup batteries and media.
    • If you're interviewing via email, retain copies of the interview subject's emails as well as the ones you send in reply
    • Make any additional, clarifying notes immediately after the interview has concluded
    Writing Paraphrases or Summaries
    • If you're having trouble summarizing, try writing your paraphrase or summary of a text without looking at the original, relying only on your memory and notes
    • Check your paraphrase or summary against the original text; correct any errors in content accuracy, and be sure to use quotation marks to set off any exact phrases from the original text
    • Check your paraphrase or summary against sentence and paragraph structure, as copying those is also considered plagiarism.
    • Use a statement that credits the source somewhere in the paraphrase or summary, e.g., According to Jonathan Kozol, ....
    • Put quotation marks around any unique words or phrases that you cannot or do not want to change, e.g., "savage inequalities" exist throughout our educational system (Kozol).
    Writing Direct Quotations
    • Keep the source author's name in the same sentence as the quote
    • Mark the quote with quotation marks, or set it off from your text in its own block, per the style guide your paper follows
    • Use quotes that will have the most rhetorical, argumentative impact in your paper; too many direct quotes from sources may weaken your credibility, as though you have nothing to say yourself, and will certainly interfere with your style
  • Quote no more material than is necessary; if a short phrase from a source will suffice, don't quote an entire paragraph
  • To shorten quotes by removing extra information, use ellipsis points (...) to indicate omitted text, keeping in mind that:
    • MLA style requires ellipsis points to appear in brackets, e.g., [...].
    • three ellipsis points indicates an in-sentence ellipsis, and four points for an ellipsis between two sentences
  • To give context to a quote or otherwise add wording to it, place added words in brackets, []; be careful not to editorialize or make any additions that skew the original meaning of the quote—do that in your main text, e.g.,
    • OK: Kozol claims there are "savage inequalities" in our educational system, which is obvious.
    • WRONG: Kozol claims there are "[obvious] savage inequalities" in our educational system.
  • Writing About Another's Ideas
    • Note the name of the idea's originator in the sentence or throughout a paragraph about the idea
    •  Keep the person’s name near the text in your notes, and in your paper
  • Use parenthetical citations, footnotes, or endnotes to refer readers to additional sources about the idea, as necessary
  • Rewrite the key ideas using different words and sentence structures than the original text
  • Be sure to use quotation marks around key phrases or words that the idea's originator used to describe the idea
  • Revising, Proofreading, and Finalizing Your Paper

    • Proofread and cross-check with your notes and sources to make sure that anything coming from an outside source is acknowledged in some combination of the following ways:
      • In-text citation, otherwise known as parenthetical citation (with Works Cited) 
      • Footnotes or endnotes
      • Bibliography, References, or Works Cited (w/parenthetical documentation) pages
      • Quotation marks around short quotes; longer quotes set off by themselves, as prescribed by a research and citation style guide
      • Indirect quotations: citing a source that cites another source
    • If you have any questions about citation, ask your teacher well in advance of your paper's due date, so if you have to make any adjustments to your citations, you have the time to do them well