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    Unfortunately,the term plagiarism is more technical than practical. It's used to describeequally mistakes in handling and citing sources and deliberate cheating andlying about the authorship of the work you hand in. In fact, one refuge of manycheaters is to say that they merely made mistakes in source handling. So byplagiarism in this course I want us all to distinguish between fraud andcheating, which is always wrong, and mistakes in learning, which areinevitable, correctable, and for many people, necessary for learning. Mistakesare welcome; deliberate fraud is not.
         To help explain some of thesedifferences, and how they play out in practical terms in school assignments,and to give us a way to talk about these issues, I'd like to invite you tothink about plagiarism as a matter of Don'ts and Do's. Some of the Do's willvary in other courses, but most all teachers will agree and assume you'll abideby the Don'ts.


    • Don't cheat. Don't lie. Don't steal.
    • Don't misrepresent others work as yours.
    • Don't go to places like schoolsucks.com, evilhouseofcheat.com, termpapersrus.com, or any of the other hundreds of online and off line sources where term papers can be commissioned or bought or borrowed for <wink>research purposes only<wink>.
    • Don't make up fake sources, fake quotations, or fake interviews.
    • Don't think that by copying something over and changing every couple of words that you've put it in your own words.
    • Don't think that because something is on the Net it doesn't need to be cited.
    • Don't procrastinate on assignments and homework so that you end up under too much deadline pressure and become tempted to take shortcuts.
    • Don't be afraid to come see me if you feel overwhelmed, unsure, fear missing a deadline, or start falling behind.
    • Don't try to get around any of these Don'ts by working so hard to disguise them that you might as well have just done the Do's.
    • Do share ideas with one another.
    • Do swap writing.
    • Do help one another write.
    • Do edit and rewrite sections of one another's papers from time to time; writers do that kind of thing all the time, and editors do it with them.
    • Do learn to like your writing; even when it's bad, hand it in any way, and know I'll always find something to like about it.
    • Do expect to make mistakes managing and citing sources.
    • Do expect to correct them.
    • Do take care in downloading sources and taking notes.
    • Do find a way to use sources wisely and fairly.
    • Do learn the myriad rhetorical purposes that including and citing sources can serve.
    • Do use the word processor to help you manage sources (for example, put sources you're quoting or paraphrasing in a different font and font color until the final draft so you don't accidentally forget they came from some other writer).
    • Do discover an argument so you have a distinctive voice in your own essay, and aren't overwhelmed and intimidated by sources.
    • Do come see me whenever you have a question about the course, are feeling overwhelmed, or unhappy with an assignment or your work; we can talk and find a way to make things work.


    Plagiarism: What It is &How to Recognize and Avoid It

    What is Plagiarism and Why is it Important?

    In high school and college courses, we are continually engaged with otherpeople’s ideas: we read them in texts, hear them in lecture, discuss them inclass, and incorporate them into our own writing. As a result, it is veryimportant that we give credit where it is due. Plagiarism is using others’ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.


    How Can Students Avoid Plagiarism?

    To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit wheneveryou use

    • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
    • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge;
    • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or
    • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.

    How to Recognize Unacceptableand Acceptable Paraphrases

    Here’s the ORIGINAL text, frompage 1 of Lizzie Borden: A Case Book of Family and Crime in the 1890sby Joyce Williams et al.:

    The rise of industry, the growthof cities, and the expansion of the population were the three greatdevelopments of late nineteenth century American history. As new, larger,steam-powered factories became a feature of the American landscape in the East,they transformed farm hands into industrial laborers, and provided jobs for arising tide of immigrants. With industry came urbanization the growth of largecities (like Fall River, Massachusetts, where the Bordens lived)which became the centers of production as well as of commerce and trade.

    Here’s an UNACCEPTABLE paraphrasethat is plagiarism:

    The increaseof industry, the growth of cities, and the explosion of the population werethree large factors of nineteenth century America. As steam-driven companiesbecame more visible in the eastern part of the country, they changed farm handsinto factory workers and provided jobs for the large wave of immigrants. Withindustry came the growth of large cities like Fall River where the Bordens lived whichturned into centers of commerce and trade as well as production.

    What makes this passage plagiarism?

    The preceding passage is considered plagiarism fortwo reasons:

    • the writer has only changed around a few words and phrases, or changed the order of the original’s sentences.
    • the writer has failed to cite a source for any of the ideas or facts.

    If you do either or both of these things, you areplagiarizing.

    NOTE: This paragraph is also problematic because it changes the sense of severalsentences (for example, "steam-driven companies" in sentence twomisses the original’s emphasis on factories).

    Here’s an ACCEPTABLE paraphrase:

    Fall River, where the Borden familylived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century.Steam-powered production had shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing,and as immigrants arrived in the US, they found work in these newfactories. As a result, populations grew, and large urban areas arose. Fall River was one ofthese manufacturing and commercial centers (Williams 1).

    Why is this passage acceptable?

    This is acceptable paraphrasingbecause the writer:

    • accurately relays the information in the original
      uses her own words.
    • lets her reader know the source of her information.

    Here’s an example of quotation and paraphrase usedtogether, which is also ACCEPTABLE:

    Fall River, where the Borden familylived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century.As steam-powered production shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing,the demand for workers "transformed farm hands into industriallaborers," and created jobs for immigrants. In turn, growing populationsincreased the size of urban areas. Fall River was one of these hubs "which became thecenters of production as well as of commerce and trade" (Williams 1).

    Why is this passage acceptable?

    This is acceptable paraphrasingbecause the writer:

    • records the information in the original passage accurately.
    • gives credit for the ideas in this passage.
    • indicated which part is taken directly from her source by putting the passage in quotation marks and citing the page number.

    Note that if the writer had usedthese phrases or sentences in her own paper without putting quotation marksaround them, she would be PLAGIARIZING. Using another person’s phrases orsentences without putting quotation marks around them is considered plagiarism EVENIF THE WRITER CITES IN HER OWN TEXT THE SOURCE OF THE PHRASES OR SENTENCES SHEHAS QUOTED.

    Plagiarism and the World Wide Web

    TheWorld Wide Web has become a more popular source of information for studentpapers, and many questions have arisen about how to avoid plagiarizing thesesources. In most cases, the same rules apply as to a printed source: when awriter must refer to ideas or quote from a WWW site, she must cite that source.

    If awriter wants to use visual information from a WWW site, many of the same rulesapply. Copying visual information or graphics from a WWW site (or from aprinted source) is very similar to quoting information, and the source of thevisual information or graphic must be cited. These rules also apply to otheruses of textual or visual information from WWW sites; for example, if a studentis constructing a web page as a class project, and copies graphics or visualinformation from other sites, she must also provide information about thesource of this information. In this case, it might be a good idea to obtainpermission from the WWW site’s owner before using the graphics.

    Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

    1. Put in quotations everything that comesdirectly from the text especially when taking notes.

    2. Paraphrase, but be sure you are not justrearranging or replacing a few words.

    Instead, read over what youwant to paraphrase carefully; cover up the text with your hand, or close thetext so you can’t see any of it (and so aren’t tempted to use the text as a“guide”). Write out the idea in your own words without peeking.

    3. Check your paraphraseagainst the original text to be sure you have not accidentally used the samephrases or words, and that the information is accurate.

    Terms You Need to Know (or What is CommonKnowledge?)

    Common knowledge: facts that can be found in numerous places andare likely to be known by a lot of people.

    Example: John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United Statesin 1960.

    This is generally known information. Youdo not need to document this fact.

    However, you must document facts that are not generallyknown and ideas that interpret facts.

    Example: Accordingthe American Family Leave Coalition’s new book, Family Issues and Congress,President Bush’s relationship with Congress has hindered family leavelegislation (6).

    The idea that “Bush’s relationshipwith Congress has hindered family leave legislation” is not a fact but an interpretation;consequently, you need to cite your source.

    Quotation: using someone’s words. When you quote, place the passage you are using inquotation marks, and document the source according to a standard documentationstyle.

    The following example uses the Modern LanguageAssociation’s style:

    Example: According to Peter S. Pritchard in USAToday, “Public schools need reform but they’re irreplaceable in teaching allthe nation’s young” (14).

    Paraphrase: using someone’s ideas, but putting them in yourown words. This is probably the skill you will use most when incorporatingsources into your writing. Although you use your own words to paraphrase, youmust still acknowledge the source of the information.

    Produced by Writing TutorialServices, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Last Modified on October 12, 2011