Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Using another person's ideas, words, data, graphics, or other intellectual property without attributing it = PLAGIARISM.   Just as students do not want others to rifle through their backpacks and lift their wallets or cell phones — because that's personal property — authors do not want others to "rifle through" their research or texts and "lift" their words and ideas — because that's intellectual property.    Therefore, be a fair and a correct user of source material and avoid the scarlet "P"!

How can you recognize plagiarism?

The following examples illustrate the clear difference between correct use of source material and faulty — or plagiarize — use of source material:

SOURCE:  Excerpt from John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, taken from Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum , eds. Lawrence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen, 1982:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Correct Use of Source Material

Quotation

As John F. Kennedy passionately proclaims, America "shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty" (76).

WHY IS THIS CORRECT?    The writer identifies the author in a signal phrase, encloses a direct quotation within quotation marks, and provides a page number for documentation.

Paraphrase

In his Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy describes how America will do everything in its power to make sure that liberty prevails (76).

WHY IS THIS CORRECT?   The writer has identified the author, hasput his idea into her own words, and has provided a page number for documentation.

Quotation & Paraphrase Together

In his Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy describes how America will do everything in its power — "pay any price, bear any burden"(76) —­to make sure that liberty prevails.

WHY IS THIS CORRECT?   The writer has identified the author, has put this idea into her own words, has enclosed direct quotation withinquotation marks, and has provided a page number for documentation.

Incorrect - or Plagiarized - Use of Source Material

Quotation

As John F. Kennedy passionately proclaims, America shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty (76).

WHY IS THIS INCORRECT?   The writer does not enclose a direct quotation within quotation marks. 

Paraphrase

In his Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy contends that America would spend any amount, suffer any weight, entertain any trial, stand by any ally, defend against any enemy, to foster the continuance and the supremacy of freedom.

WHY IS THIS INCORRECT?    The writer uses the same sentence structure as the original and "plugs in" synonyms for the nouns and verbs that are in the original text. Therefore, this is a faulty paraphrase.   To correctly paraphrase, a writer must "own" the idea of the original and recast it by using his own words and by using his own sentence structure.

Quotation & Paraphrase Together

In his Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy contends that America will bearany burden, that it will meet any hardship, and that it will support any friend in order to ensure liberty.

WHY IS THIS INCORRECT?   In this case, the writer has added a few words, such as "that it will" before the president's words in an effort to disguise what is essentially a direct quotation.   In addition, the directly quoted words are not enclosed within quotation marks.   Further, the writer has not provided a page number for documentation.

Follow these rules to avoid plagiarism and therefore the Scarlet "P"

  • Correctly cite all direct quotations, summaries, paraphrases, or other borrowings from a source.   This would include use of graphics, photographs, research data, statistics, and anything that is not considered common knowledge.
  • Enclose all direct quotation within quotation marks.
  • For summaries and paraphrases, put the author's ideas into your own words and do this by using your own sentence structure.

In addition to observing the above rules, understand that trading papers, buying papers, cutting and pasting portions of other writers' papers into your own paper, or asking someone else to write your paper all constitute PLAGIARISM and will most definitely earn you a scarlet "P."

By Teresa Sweeney, Writing Coach

Feb. 2004