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Citation 101

An overview and guide to citation styles
 
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                Plagiarism

Before we consider plagiarism, we might first consider that the purpose of a writing assignment is to improve your understanding of a particular topic or problem, to help you express your understanding in writing, and to let the professor evaluate how well you can understand and write. The important part of a writing assignment is not the paper itself or the grade you get, but the opportunity to learn and grow.

The basic expectation in every class is that whatever you write will be your own words, generated from your own understanding. It is acceptable to incorporate someone else’s words or ideas in your paper only if you clearly indicate the words are someone else’s.

This page provides a definition of plagiarism, its consequences, and what steps to take to avoid committing plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct in which you present someone else’s words or ideas as your own without giving credit to sources that you use. Not only is plagiarism dishonest, it violates LSCS policy (https://www.lonestar.edu/instructional-resources.htm). Penalties can be very strong, so make sure you are aware of the consequences at your university or workplace. Professional plagiarism is also a problem that comes with very severe consequences. 

Plagiarism applies to all information regardless of format. Photographs, charts, graphs, drawings, statistics, verbal exchanges such as interviews or lectures, performances on television or live, and texts whether in print or on the web must all be documented appropriately.

Intentional plagiarism happens when you  buy, steal or borrow a paper, words or ideas  from someone else without giving the author credit. It is also possible to plagiarize from yourself. If you repurpose a paper from a previous class or write one paper for two classes without the instructor’s permission, this is plagiarism. Unintentional plagiarism usually occurs when the writer doesn’t fully understand the citation format he is using and leaves out essential information or makes punctuation errors; the writer thinks he is paraphrasing but actually directly quotes from a source; or the writer credits a quote or idea to the wrong source.

  • Plagiarizing defeats the purpose of writing assignments because when you substitute someone else’s work for your own, you avoid the work of using and improving your own expressive ability. It defeats the university’s goal of teaching students to write, not just copy.
  • Plagiarism is a form of lying, because your professor is expecting to read your words, not someone else’s.
  • Plagiarism defeats the purpose of scholarship. The goal of scholarship is to discover, understand, and create. That purpose is defeated when old knowledge is fraudulently presented as original and new.
  • Think: Think about your topic and the research you have done well enough to explain it in your own words. Start the assignment soon enough to think and understand, not just research and type.
  • Write: Generate your own words to express your own understanding. If you have trouble getting started, get help from your professor or The Writing Center
  • Signal: Clearly signal whenever you are using someone else’s words, whether you are using them by direct quotation or paraphrase. 
  • Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
  • Paraphrasing means putting a passage/segment from the source material into your own words; credit to the original source is still required. Paraphrased works are usually shorter than the original passage, take a broader view of the segment and condense it slightly. Changing a few words or rearranging the structure of the sentences in the original source is not paraphrasing. If your writing is still too close to the original, you are plagiarizing not paraphrasing. 6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing
  • Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). You must still give credit to the original source; and summaries are significantly shorter than the original work. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing
  • Understand the value of citations. Don’t be afraid to use too many citations thinking your professor may feel you rely too much on your sources and not enough on your own ideas. Citing sources allows you to distinguish between what the authors say and your analysis of their ideas and proves the authority behind your ideas.
  • Improve your note-taking skills. Be sure to carefully and completely note all the bibliographic information from each source you use. Think of taking notes as the transition between what you have read and what you are going to write. Adopt a “conversational” approach to note-taking which can improve your skills in analyzing what you have read as well as help you avoid the temptation to copy too closely what the author has written.
  • Practice careful use of quotation marks. These distinguish exact words used by the author, so when you go back later you won’t have to guess which ideas are yours and which come directly from the text.

Work Cited:

“Academic Integrity and Plagiarism.” Texas A&M University Libraries, https://library.tamu.edu/services/library_tutorials/academic_integrity/academic_integrity_3.html.

“Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Plagiarism.” Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL), https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/avoiding_plagiarism/plagiarism_faq.html.

“Nine Things You Should Already Know About PLAGIARISM.” University Libraries @ The University of Oklahoma, https://guides.ou.edu/c.php?g=527571&p=5232876

“Plagiarism.” The Writing Center @ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/plagiarism.

“Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.” Lone Star Montgomery College EDUC 1300 Presentation, https://dlc.dcccd.edu/embed.php?key=dcccd+1dcccd234+englishcomp1rlc-units/quoting-paraphrasing-and-summarizing.

“Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing.” Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL), https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/using_research/quoting_paraphrasing_and_summarizing/index.html.