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Plagiarism – How to Avoid It

You need to understand that academic writing is a process fraught with contradictions: you are frequently asked to use your own words and ideas about subjects for which you not only lack expertise but are, in fact, in the process of learning. In addition, you are expected to access the thoughts and ideas of experts to bolster your argument. You are required to skillfully weave these ideas into your paper, so that everything flows smoothly, yet all the while keeping it crystal clear whose thoughts are whose. You are expected to write in your own style and your own voice, as long as it falls into the accepted norms of your discipline and/or the critical taste of your instructor. It’s not easy, and it’s not always clear-cut, but it is one of the processes that you are in school to master, and it will become more natural with practice. Keep in mind that if you have questions or uncertainties, faculty and other student support systems are here to help. In addition, read and utilize the strategies below.

Strategies

APA Citation Guide Exercises

MLA Citation Exercises

Strategies:

  1. Find a topic that engages you by doing some background reading and discussing your research question with professors, librarians, and other students.
  2. Be familiar with the WSU definition of and policies concerning plagiarism.
  3. Be sure you understand your instructors’ policies concerning plagiarism.
  4. Gathering Research Materials:
    • Allow time to make multiple trips to the library: start your research early and consult reference librarians to learn about the best research tools for your topic.
    • Get extra sources: Get your research done early and get extra sources. You don’t have to use them all, but if you find there is a source you can’t use, you’ll have back up.
    • Expect it will take extra time to receive materials not available on your WSU campus: Search It and Interlibrary Loans make millions of resources available, but items not on your campus take from three days to two weeks to receive.
  5. Taking Notes:
    • Color code your notes: Be sure to distinguish between places where you are paraphrasing others’ ideas versus directly quoting from a source.
    • Use author and page notation: Make sure that every note you take is connected to the source’s author and page number. In addition, keep a running bibliography of complete citation information for each source used.
    • Keep a research log: It is helpful to keep a log of the catalogs, indexes, and databases you have consulted during the research process along with search terms used. This will help prevent repetitive searching.
  6. Quoting:
    • Quote sparingly: Use quotes only when the author’s choice of words to express his/her idea perfectly capture the point. No instructor wants to receive a written product that is basically a string of quotes.
    • Use proper quoting mechanics: Be sure to use quotation marks around the text you are quoting. Also, include the author’s name before or after the quotation and indicate added phrases with brackets [ ] and omitted text with ellipses …
    • Incorporate a citation: You must include citation elements in the sentence(s) you are quoting. These citation elements include author’s name, page number, and year, with the exact format varying across style manuals.
    • Samples: The Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill offer a Citing Information Tutorial which gives quoting examples for APA and MLA.
  7. Paraphrasing and Summarizing:
    • Use your interpretation: Without looking at the original text, craft your paraphrase or summary. Be sure you are using unique words and phrases and reordering clauses within the sentence. It is plagiarism to simply reorder words within a sentence or sentences within a paragraph.
    • Incorporate a citation: You must include citation elements in the sentence(s) you are paraphrasing or summarizing. These citation elements include author’s name, page number, and year, with the exact format varying across style manuals.
    • Samples: The Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill offer a Citing Information Tutorial which gives paraphrasing examples for APA and MLA.
  8. No Need to Cite Your Source:
    • Using your own work: You do not need to cite your own thoughts, ideas, written products, or research.
    • Drawing on common knowledge: You do not need to cite information classified as common knowledge. Examples of common knowledge include indisputable facts known by large numbers of people, and common sense observations.

Works consulted in the creation of this document included avoiding plagiarism Web pages from theOnline Writing Lab at Purdue University and Duke University Libraries.

APA Citation Exercises

Directions: For each exercise below, determine whether or not plagiarism has occurred.

Original Source A:

“Survey respondents may have only viewed face-to-face communication as human help, while not considering email as human help because of its technological mask.” (Corey Johnson, published 2003, page 58)

Exercises A:

  1. Survey takers may have only thought of in-person communication as human help, while not considering electronic mail as human assistance because of its technological cover (Johnson, p. 58).
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    This attempt at paraphrasing the original source was unsuccessful because while some of the words from the original were changed, the sentence structure of the original was not altered.
    When paraphrasing in MLA, you should have a page number.

  2. Because email communication does not involve direct human contact, survey respondents may have only classified in-person communication as human help (Johnson, 2003).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of paraphrasing.

  3. In his book, Online Chat Reference Explored, Corey Johnson (2003) notes, “Survey respondents may have only viewed face-to-face communication as human help, while not considering email as human help because of its technological mask” (p. 58).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of quoting.

  4. Survey respondents may have only viewed face-to-face communication as human help, while not considering email as human help because of its technological mask.
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Use of the exact words from above with no quotation marks, no citation.

Original Source B:

“Even though the commercial companies provide lower quality service, they garner much more patronage than not-for-profits because of aggressive marketing strategies and name recognition.” (James Davis, published 1986, page 236).

Exercises B:

  1. According to James Davis (1986), commercial companies attract more business than non-profits because of saturating marketing tactics, even while offering inferior service.
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of paraphrasing.

  2. While for-profit companies provide worse service, they get more customers than non-profits because of assertive marketing tactics and customer familiarity with their names (Davis, 1986).
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Many words were changed but the sentence structure is the same.

  3. Although the commercial companies provide lower quality service, they get more customers because of aggressive marketing tactics (Davis, 1986).
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    The phrase “commercial companies provide lower quality service” needs quotes and consequently you’d need to add the page number.

Original Source C:

“The emperor played many diverse roles for the people, he was the chief spiritual leader and contact with the gods, he also commanded the military and was the society’s central legislator.” (Lindsay Madens, published 1990, page 87)

Exercises C:

  1. Among the duties of the emperor, he was chief spiritual leader and commanded the military.
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Use of same phrases such as “chief spiritual leader” and “commanded the military” with no quotes.
    No citation.

  2. Lindsay Madens (1990) indicates the emperor’s life was full of important responsibilities. She outlines many of them including “chief spiritual leader” and “society’s central legislator” (p. 87).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of combining quoting and paraphrasing.

  3. Lindsay Madens (1990) recognizes the many roles of the emperor. He was both the central religious figure and lawmaker.
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Second sentence is Madens’ idea, so you need to put (1990) at the end of the second sentence.

  4. Serving as the primary authority and leader concerning religious, military, and political matters, the emperor had powerful and varied duties (Madens, 1990).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of paraphrasing.

MLA Citation Exercises

Directions: For each exercise below, determine whether or not plagiarism has occurred.

Original Source A:

“Survey respondents may have only viewed face-to-face communication as human help, while not considering email as human help because of its technological mask.” (Corey Johnson, published 2003, page 58)

Exercises A:

  1. Survey takers may have only thought of in-person communication as human help, while not considering electronic mail as human assistance because of its technological cover. (Johnson).
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    This attempt at paraphrasing the original source was unsuccessful because while some of the words from the original were changed, the sentence structure of the original was not altered When paraphrasing in APA, you should not have a page number, but instead the year.

  2. Because email communication does not involve direct human contact, survey respondents may have only classified in-person communication as human help (Johnson 58).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of paraphrasing.

  3. In his book, Online Chat Reference Explored, Corey Johnson notes, “Survey respondents may have only viewed face-to-face communication as human help, while not considering email as human help because of its technological mask” (58).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of quoting.

  4. Survey respondents may have only viewed face-to-face communication as human help, while not considering email as human help because of its technological mask.
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Use of the exact words from above with no quotation marks.
    No citation.

Original Source B:

“Even though the commercial companies provide lower quality service, they garner much more patronage than not-for-profits because of aggressive marketing strategies and name recognition.” (James Davis, published 1986, page 236).

Exercises B:

  1. According to James Davis, commercial companies attract more business than non-profits because of saturating marketing tactics, even while offering inferior customer service (236).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of paraphrasing.

  2. While for-profit companies provide worse service, they get more customers than non-profits because of assertive marketing tactics and customer familiarity with their names (Davis 236).
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Many words were changed but the sentence structure is the same.

  3. Although the commercial companies provide lower quality service, they get more customers because of aggressive marketing tactics (Davis 236).
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    The phrase “commercial companies provide lower quality service” needs quotes.

Original Source C:

“The emperor played many diverse roles for the people, he was the chief spiritual leader and contact with the gods, he also commanded the military and was the society’s central legislator.” (Lindsay Madens, published 1990, page 87)

Exercises C:

  1. Among the duties of the emperor, he was chief spiritual leader and commanded the military.
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    Use of same phrases such as “chief spiritual leader” and “commanded the military” with no quotes.
    No citiation.

  2. Lindsay Madens indicates the emperor’s life was full of important responsibilities. She outlines many of them including “chief spiritual leader” and “society’s central legislator” (87).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of combining quoting and paraphrasing.

  3. Lindsay Madens recognizes the many roles of the emperor (87). He is both chief spiritual leader and the society’s central legislator.
    Answer

    Answer: Plagiarism
    The second sentence is Maden’s idea so the page number belongs at the end of the second sentence.
    Phrases such as “chief spiritual leader” and “commanded the military” with no quotes.

  4. Serving as the primary authority and leader concerning religious, military, and political matters, the emperor had powerful and varied duties (Madens 87).
    Answer

    Answer: Not Plagiarism
    Good example of paraphrasing.


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