Avoiding Plagiarism, Pleasing Profs, & Living an Academically Honest Life
What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is using the words, ideas, research results, formulae, images, or data from another person without giving credit to the originator of those words, ideas, research results, formulae, images or data
Many students feel that by using footnotes, endnotes, or citations their papers will not be as good as papers that make fewer references to other works. But this conclusion is just plain wrong…
In fact, the student who cites sources where appropriate guarantees a better grade than the student who writes a paper without adequately giving credit to the source material! Paper with citations—no plagiarism No citations—plagiarized material
Why?!? By providing citations to other works, a writer is showing how he or she is entering into the conversation of a given field, building upon what’s already been said and adding his or her own voice.
When do you need to cite a source? Whenever you use the words (written or spoken) ideas formulae research results images or data of another person--unless that information is common knowledge
“Common knowledge” is anything that is considered known by the vast majority of the population—or found in generalized encyclopedias and/or dictionaries. Examples include: Chicago is the largest city in Illinois a 2 + b 2 = c 2 In those examples, you would not be expected to cite the census or Pythagoras. What is “common knowledge?”
Example of when you would be expected to cite a source: When you’re including information that isn’t common knowledge, you would want to cite it: William Butler Ogden, the first mayor of Chicago, designed the first swing bridge over the Chicago River (ByCityLight, 2). The complete reference for this source would then be found at the end of the paper in the “Works Cited” page: “Chicago, Illinois.” ByCityLights.com. 31 October 2007.
Another example: As Julius Smith notes, “[i]n 2D, the Pythagorean Theorem says that when x and y are orthogonal… then we have: ║x+y║ 2 =║x║ 2 + ║y║ 2 (x┴y).” (Fourier Theorems) T he “Works Cited” page would include this citation: Smith, J.O. "Fourier Theorems for the DFT" in Mathematics of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) with Audio Applications, 2 nd ed. 2007. 31 October 2007.
It’s fairly obvious that copying directly from a source without using quotation marks and not providing a citation is plagiarism. What about when we copy from a source and change a few words (i.e., paraphrase) without indicating its originator? This is also plagiarism.
Why is paraphrasing plagiarism? If you steal your roommate’s pillow and put it in your pillowcase, it is still your roommate’s pillow, right? It’s no different if you take an idea from someone else—it’s still their idea, not yours.
Thought problems Properly using citations in a research paper ensures a better grade than not using any citations. T / F WHY?
Answer: True! The proper use of citations reflects a writer’s ability to enter a scholarly conversation while building upon the works of others. This sort of academic maturity would be favorably viewed by professors.
WHY? As long as you have a Bibliography/Works Cited/Works Consulted page, you will not need to use footnotes or endnotes or parenthetical references. T / F
Answer: False! Having a bibliography/works cited/works consulted page indicates that other sources were consulted or used in the preparation of the paper. Consequently footnotes/endnotes or parenthetical notes are typically found within the paper itself.
“Tobacco use was significantly higher among white students (P<.001), users of other substances (alcohol and marijuana) (P<.001), and students whose priorities were social rather than educational or athletic (P<.05).” (Rigotti, Lee and Wechsler, 699) The above statement was taken from a scholarly journal. If a student were to include the sentence on the right in a research paper, would it be considered plagiarism? Students who use alcohol or marijuana are more likely to use tobacco. Plagiarism or not?
Answer: Plagiarism unless cited The student writing that sentence would want to cite the source for his/her claim that students who use other substances are more likely to also use tobacco. If a citation were not provided, the reader would either have to conclude that the student was fabricating conclusions or had conducted independent research to support that claim. *If the latter instance were the case, the writer would still need to cite his/her own research.
“Tobacco use was significantly higher among white students (P<.001), users of other substances (alcohol and marijuana) (P<.001), and students whose priorities were social rather than educational or athletic (P<.05).” (Rigotti, Lee and Wechsler, 699) Using the same sentence, above, determine whether the student’s statement on the right would be considered plagiarism or not. Athletes are not as likely to use tobacco as those students who attend college with the aim of meeting friends. Plagiarism or not?
Answer: plagiarism unless cited In this instance, the student writer has paraphrased the findings of a research study. Simply using his/her own words to describe the findings of the study does not mean the writer is free to claim those findings as his/her own. The authors of the study should be cited. If, on the other hand, the student writer were to draft a sentence speculating as to why student athletes might choose not to use tobacco, those speculations would not need to be cited if they were part of the student’s working hypothesis.
When in doubt… Ask your professor! Ask at the Writing Center! Ask a librarian! We all want to see you succeed!
Works Consulted “Chicago, Illinois.” ByCityLights.com. 31 October 2007. “Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices.” Online posting. 22 October 2007. Moulton, Janice and George Robinson. “Plagiarism” Encyclopedia of Ethics, 2 nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2002. “Plagiarism.” Online posting. 25 October 2007 Rigotti, Nancy A., Jae Eun Lee, and Henry Wechsler. “U.S. College Students’ Use of Tobacco Products.” Journal of the American Medical Association 284 (2000): 699- 705. Stepchyshyn, Vera and Robert S.Nelson. Library Plagiarism Policies: CLIP Note #37. Chicago: American Library Assocation, 2007. Smith, J.O. "Fourier Theorems for the DFT" in Mathematics of the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) with Audio Applications, 2 nd ed. 2007. 31 October 2007.