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Plagiarism is use of the distinctive ideas or words belonging to another person without adequate acknowledgement of that person's contribution. In the context of academic work the standards for acknowledging sources are very high. An author must give due credit whenever quoting another person's actual words, whenever using another person's idea, opinion or theory, and whenever borrowing facts, statistics or illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge.
1. Direct Quotation: Every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks or by appropriate indentation, and must be promptly acknowledged. The citation must be complete and in a style appropriate to the academic discipline.
EXAMPLE: The following is an example of an unacknowledged direct quotation:
Original Source: "To push the comparison with popular tale and popular romance a bit further, we may note that the measure of artistic triviality of works such as Sir Degare or even Havelok the Dane is their casualness, their indifference to all but the simplest elements of literary substance. The point is that high genre does not certify art and low genre does not preclude it." (From Robert M. Duran, Chaucer and the Shape of Creation, Howard University Press, 1967, p. 187.)
Student Paper: "To push the comparison with popular tale and popular romance a bit further, you can note that the measure of the artistic triviality in some works of Chaucer's time period is their casualness, their indifference to all but the simplest elements of literary substance. The point is that high genre does not certify art and low genre does not preclude it."
2. Paraphrase: Prompt acknowledgement is required when material from another source is paraphrased or summarized in whole or in part in one's own words. To acknowledge a paraphrase properly, one might state: "to paraphrase Locke's comment . . ." or "according to Rousseau . . ." and conclude with a citation identifying the exact reference.
A citation acknowledging only a directly quoted statement does not suffice to notify the reader of any preceding or succeeding paraphrased material.
EXAMPLE: The following is an example of an unacknowledged paraphrase:
Original Source: "The era in question included three formally declared wars. The decision to enter the War of 1812 was made by Congress after extended debate. Madison made no recommendation in favor of hostilities, though he did marshal a telling case against England in his message to Congress of June 1, 1812. The primary impetus to battle, however, seems to have come from a group of War Hawks in the legislature." (From W. Taylor Reveley III, "Presidential War-Making: Constitutional Prerogative or Usurpation?", University of Virginia Law Review, November 1969, footnotes omitted.)
Student Paper: "There were three formally declared wars during this era. The decision to enter the war in 1812 was made by Congress after extended debate. Madison actually made no recommendation in favor of hostilities in his message to Congress of June 1, 1812, though he presented a persuasive case against Britain. The primary impetus to battle, however, appears to have come from a group of War Hawks in the legislature."
3. Borrowed Facts or Information: Information obtained in one's reading or research which is not common knowledge must be acknowledged. Examples of common knowledge might include the names of leaders of prominent nations, basic scientific laws, etc. If there is doubt whether information is common knowledge the citation should be given.
One citation is usually sufficient to acknowledge indebtedness when a number of connected sentences in the paper or report draw their special information from one source. When direct quotations are used, however, quotation marks must be inserted and prompt acknowledgement made. Similarly, when a passage is paraphrased, prompt acknowledgement is required.