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Understanding Plagiarism: Identifying Plagiarism



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Learning to identify plagiarism is the first step in avoiding it.

"When do I need to cite a source and why?" "When information or ideas are not your own."

"How do I know when I've misused a source?"

"If it's not common knowledge, you need to attribute the information to the author/creator."

Acknowledging source material is an important part of academic honesty.

Integrating source material into your own writing means that you either have to quote,

paraphrase, or summarize. "When do I quote a source?"

The guideline for quoting a source: if the original language of the source is necessary

to capture its meaning, then you should quote it. In other words, if you will lose the intention

or meaning of the author by paraphrasing or summarizing then use a direct quote.

"When do I paraphrase a source?" The guideline for paraphrasing a source: if

the original language of the source is not necessary to capture its meaning, then you

should paraphrase it. For the most part, you should attempt to paraphrase source material

rather than always relying on direct quotation. This helps integrate the source into your

own writing style. "When do I summarize a source?"

The guideline for summarizing a source: if the original language of the source is not

necessary to capture its meaning, and the original material is too lengthy to paraphrase

appropriately, you should summarize. Use summary sparingly.

Let's take a look at using source material correctly to avoid plagiarism.

First, select the original source material. Once you have selected a source that will

support the claim you are making, decide on either quoting or paraphrasing.

There are conventions to using direct quotes in your writing.

"What is the best way to put a direct quote in my writing?"

There are three key things to remember. First, use attributive tags to integrate direct

quotes into your writing. Attributive tags are phrases like "The author

Dr. Jones suggests..." Second, you must include an in-text citation

to credit the source of your quotation. In-text citations are placed in your writing

to credit the source and to cite the author/creator. Third, the in-text citation will offer a shortened

reference that serves to direct the reader to the full bibliographic information of the

source found on the reference page. Let's look at a sample.

Note the attributive tag. Note the in-text citation.

"What is the best way to paraphrase in my writing?"

The same basic conventions apply to using paraphrasing in your writing with one extra

step: you have to put the source material IN YOUR OWN WORDS.

To paraphrase appropriately and avoid plagiarism ... completely re-write the passage you are

using from the original source material. Do not simply swap out a few words; it needs

to be rewritten in your style and voice. Also...follow the same conventions for giving

credit to the author/creator. Use attributive tags and in-text citation.

Let's look at a sample.

Notice how the paraphrase captures the meaning of the original source but is rewritten in

the writer's own style and voice. Original

Paraphrase Note the attributive tag.

Note the in-text citation. For a summary, the same principles apply as

for a paraphrase—the only difference is the original passage you use is longer and

needs to be shortened. So, with a summary use the same basic approach: condense in your

own words and appropriately credit the source.

To avoid plagiarism, the goals for using sources in your writing are to

Learn to identify plagiarism. Learn to appropriately use source material

in your writing. AND Learn to distinguish the principles for quoting,

paraphrasing, and summarizing source material.