Tuesday, January 17, 2012


"When finalizing my thoughts, I, like most every teenager who has use of a computer, cut and pasted my ideas together. I erroneously thought the way I had submitted the articles was appropriate. I now realize that I was mistaken."
Blair Hornstine quoted in the book Other People's Words, p.9)
Plagiarism is "the uncredited use (both intentional and unintentional) of somebody else's words or ideas."

Avoiding Plagiarism

Purdue's Online Writing Lab has created a great webpage on plagiarism, which includes this discussion of when we need to give credit.

Another great resource on the issues surrounding plagiarism here. It also has a very good self-test: http://abacus.bates.edu/cbb/quiz/intro/integrity.html

Are you a plagiarist? Take this self test.

A teacher, David Gardner, at the University of Hong Kong has created this excellent website, which includes a test to evaluate if you know how to avoid plagiarism. [Note: the use of the single quotation mark is British usage; American usage is to use the double quotation mark. Please ask if you've any questions about this.]

NPR story on Plagiarism
"Guest Host Melissa Block talks with Thomas Mallon, author of Stolen Words: Forays into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism, about the discovery of plagiarism by well-known authors such as Steven Ambrose, and research techniques which should help avoid the problem. (4:30)"

So how do you avoid plagiarism? Two main techniques: Paraphrasing and proper citing.

Let's say you read something. This happens all the time. The writer said everything you would like to say. But you can't just copy it and put it in your paper. Or, the writer says it plus other details and you need only some of it.

Q: Thinking back on what you've done, how do you go about paraphrasing something?

-Write your paraphrase WITHOUT looking at the book. Then check for accuracy and mistakenly borrowed phrases.

-Begin a summary statement with something like, "According to author Jennifer Smith, the industrial revolution…"

-Put any unique phrases or words in quotations.

-Don't quote at length just because you're too lazy to put in your own words (paraphrase) and credit.

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What is Fair Use?
But I'm using it for "educational" purposes. Am I ok?