Step 6: Avoid Plagiarism
WHAT IS PLAGIARISM?
- Presenting someone else's words or ideas as your own.
- Simply changing a few words around or using a thesaurus to find substitute words does not make an idea your own. The MLA Handbook recommends you document everything you borrow, including direct quotations, paraphrases, pieces of information, and ideas.
For more information on plagiarism, view this short presentation:
Can You Cut? Can You Paste? - PowerPoint Presentation by Kay Cunningham, Library Director, 2011 (PowerPoint)
See CBU's Plagiarism Policy for consequences of failure to cite properly.
As Brenda Spatt says in her book, Writing from Sources, "If you present another person's ideas as your own, you are plagiarizing even if you use your own words" (440). She illustrates this point with the following example. Suppose you want to use the material in the following passage, which appears in Leo Gurko's Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism:
The Hemingways put themselves on short rations, ate, drank, and entertained as little as possible, pounced eagerly on the small checks that arrived in the mail as payment for accepted stories, and were intensely conscious of being poor. The sensation was not altogether unpleasant. Their extreme youth, the excitement of living abroad, even the unexpected joy of parenthood, have their poverty a romantic flavor.
If you write the following sentence without any documentation, you have committed plagiarism:
Despite all the economies that they had to make and all the pleasures they had to do without, the Hemingways rather enjoyed the experience of being poor.
To avoid plagiarism, cite your source:
As Leo Gurko has suggested, the experience of being poor was not altogether unpleasant for the Hemingways (33).
WHAT MUST BE CITED?
1. All words quoted directly from another source
Put other people's words in quotation marks, and include a parenthetical citation or footnote for the source.
"It appears that both repeat dieters and bulimics can be characterized as having low self-esteem and an external locus of control (Dykens and Gerrard 288).
2. All facts, figures, and statistics that are not common knowledge.
When in doubt, cite your source:
Gold prices reached a ten-year high of $12.33 an ounce on October 10, 1993. (Scott 23).
3. All ideas paraphrased from a source:
According to Dykens and Gerrar, people who are bulimic or who diet repeatedly can be characterized as having low self-esteem and feelings of being out of control (288).
|TIP: Paraphrasing does not mean changing one or two words in a sentence. Paraphrasing is putting an idea into your own words. For example:|
|Original, from Wilson and Blackhurst (1999):||The fact that the media-portrayed standard of thinness is unattainable for most women is precisely what makes it such an effective marketing tool. Encouraging women to measure themselves against this standard allows advertisers to exploit not only women's inevitable dissatisfaction with their own bodies but also their resulting feelings of failure and inadequacy. When women inevitably fail to achieve the thin ideal, food advertisers are quick to suggest that this failure is cause for guilt and shame. Food advertisements signal to women that the failure is more than a lapse in willpower; it is a sign of weak character, even moral inadequacy.|
Changing a few words around, and using a few synonyms is not paraphrasing!
|The media portrays standards of thinness that are unattainable for most women, and they use this portrayal as an effective marketing tool. Encouraging females to compare themselves against this standard of thinness allows advertisers to exploit women's poor body images and their resulting feelings of failure and inadequacy. Food advertisers are quick to suggest that the failure of women to achieve the thin ideal is cause for guilt and shame. Food advertisements send a signal to women that failing to be thin is a sign of weak character and moral shortcomings.|
(even with the citation at the end):
|The media portrays standards of thinness that are unattainable for most women, and they use this portrayal as an effective marketing tool. Encouraging females to compare themselves against this standard of thinness allows advertisers to exploit women's poor body images and their resulting feelings of failure and inadequacy. Food advertisers are quick to suggest that the failure of women to achieve the thin ideal is cause for guilt and shame. Food advertisements send a signal to women that failing to be thin is a sign of weak character and moral shortcomings (Wilson and Blackhurst 1999).|
|Not Plagiarism. Successful Paraphrasing:||Wilson and Blackhurst (1999) note that food advertisers capitalize on and exacerbate women's poor body images. According to the authors, food advertisers deliberately encourage feelings of guilt and inferiority among female consumers by creating ads that feature unrealistically thin women.|