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Plagiarism  

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2011 URL: http://library.allegheny.edu/plagiarism Print Guide RSS Updates

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What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It

What is Plagiarism and Why is it Important?

In college courses, we are continually engaged with other people’s ideas: we read them in texts, hear them in lecture, discuss them in class, and incorporate them into our own writing. As a result, it is very important that we give credit where it is due. Plagiarism is using others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

How Can Students Avoid Plagiarism?

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use:

  • another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of information—that are not common knowledge;
  • quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or
  • paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.
 

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Exact Quotes

When you use an source's exact words you must place those words in quotation marks and give information about the source as a note.

Adding Context Within Quotes

If you think the quotation needs to have something added to it to put it in the proper context or if you want to remove something you don't think is relevant to your paper, you may do so.

To add something, put it in brackets ([ ])
To take something out, insert an ellipsis ( . . . ).

"The legislative powers ... granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and [a] House of Representatives."

Paraphrasing vs Quoting

To avoid a paper packed with exact quotes, strung one after the other, you may restate the ideas of others in your own words.  A paraphrase should be different enough from the original that it is not just a minor re-arrangement, yet it must reflect the original author's thought accurately.

Original:  "The legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives" 

Paraphrase:  The Senate and the House of Representatives will make up the Congress of the United States, which shall exercise the legislative powers described here.

Both of these need to be cited in whatever format your professor determines, as coming from the Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 1.

 

Definition of Plagiarism

The use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.

from Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, 1995

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