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Transcript of Avoiding Plagiarism
The University Writing Center Presents
The University Writing Center
The Learning Commons at PCL
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The University Writing Center
Anyone enrolled in a UT class
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University Writing Center
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Created by Tom Lindsay
Last updated by Lamiyah Bahrainwala, June 2014
Information, writing help, teaching resources, and
Make an appointment (
Or walk in.
Be sure to bring...
The writing prompt or assignment description,
Your brainstorming notes,
Your current draft,
And/or any other materials related to the piece of writing.
Bank of stock frames:
Adapted from the Purdue Online Writing Lab's "Avoiding Plagiarism"*
and The University of Texas Library's "All About Plagiarism"*
occurs when people re-present as their own work any words, ideas, or other materials that they obtain from an outside source.
Plagiarism can be...
Buying, stealing, copying, or borrowing a whole paper.
Hiring someone to write a paper for you.
Copying a large section of another source without citing it.
Building on someone's ideas without citing their work.
Why do we care about
In American schools, businesses, and publications
Embedding images, videos, or sounds in a document without noting their source.
One of the primary ways writers and speakers do these three things is by avoiding plagiarism and acknowledging the outside source(s) from which they obtain words, ideas, and materials that are not their own.
Knowing how, when, and why to acknowledge outside sources requires writers in the USA to familiarize themselves with a series of rules and conventions that mostly have to do with research and citation.
Being unfamiliar with these rules and conventions, or choosing to disregard them, is what causes American writers to commit plagiarism.
Generate ideas and arguments based on things people have already said and thought
Generate ideas and arguments that are new and original
Use experts' opinions to support your own ideas
Improve upon, disagree with, and/or nuance those opinions
Acknowledge the work of previous researchers and thinkers
Make your own unique contribution to a field
Improve your English by using what you hear and read
Write and speak with your own words and your own voice
You don't have to cite your sources when...
Writing about your own experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject.
Writing up results you obtained through a lab or field experiment.
Using artwork, photographs, video, audio, etc. that you created.
Drawing on "common knowledge," such as folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents).
Using facts that reasonable people accept
Using facts that members of a particular community accept
You can probably regard information as common knowledge or as a generally accepted fact if...
You find it undocumented in at least five credible sources.
You can reasonably expect your readers to already know it.
Your readers can easily find it in general reference sources.
But when in doubt, cite. Your instructor will tell you if a citation is unnecessary and will probably not penalize you for it. An unnecessary citation is safer than no citation at all.
Reading and Taking Notes
Be strategic and selective when taking down direct quotations.
Cite as you go! Cite as you go! Cite as you go!
Paraphrases or Summaries
Avoiding plagiarism is about more than simply knowing when and when not to cite sources. More fundamentally, avoiding plagiarism is about...
Taking notes properly and efficiently
Reading sources effectively
Participating responsibly in academic conversations
Take your time, be deliberate and selective, and give yourself signposts.
Finish reading the text or chunk of text before taking down direct quotations, paraphrases, and summaries.
Direct quotations can function as powerful evidence in a paper. Only copy them into your notes if 1) you intend to use them in a paper and 2) they contain language or ideas that would be lost in summary or paraphrase.
As a note-taker, be kind to your future paper-writing self. Give yourself signposts.
If you take thorough notes after reading a text or chunk of a text, rather than as you are reading, you will help yourself process, understand, remember, and condense that text's main ideas.
Indicate what is what in your notes, so you don't forget later on. Use different fonts or colors; draw a big "S" for source next to your summaries and paraphrases and a big "ME" next to your own ideas; always mark direct quotations with quotation marks.
When recording material from sources, record at least basic documentation information in your notes (book and article titles, page numbers, URLs on the web, etc.)
Tips for Other Note-taking Situations:
Be thorough and explicit about what comes from you and what comes from your subject. Record the interview, if your subject allows you to.
Class Discussions and Lectures
If someone says something you might cite in a paper, take it down exactly in quotation marks, and indicate who said it. If an idea occurs to you while taking class notes, mark it with a big "ME."
Save copies of relevant messages and record the dates on which they were sent. Most e-mail servers do both of these things automatically.
in a paper...
Always provide context for the paraphrase or summary. Indicate to the reader where the paraphrased or summarized material comes from.
Think of it like a decorative patch on a pair of jeans. You don't want the patch to be hidden. You want people to know it's there. It's the same with paraphrases and summaries. Reference your source so your reader knows what they're reading.
If you're finding it hard to paraphrase or summarize a source, try doing so without looking at the source.
Try putting the source away and paraphrasing or summarizing while relying just on your memory and/or your notes.
Double check all paraphrases and summaries against the original source to make sure they're sufficiently different.
Compare your paraphrase or summary against the source to ensure that you don't have any content errors and that your word choice, sentence structure, and paragraph structure are sufficiently different.
When all else fails, quote.
If there is a word or phrase that you simply cannot paraphrase, or an idea that you simply cannot summarize, quote it.
into a paper...
Reference your source and use quotation marks. You want your reader to see clearly that you're drawing on another source.
As with paraphrasing and summarizing, so it is with direct quotations: you want to indicate to your reader that they are reading a direct quote. Include the source author's name in the same sentence as the quote and mark it off with quotation marks (or set it off from your prose in its own block, per your style guide's instructions).
Be economical and selective. Quote only as much as you need to and as much as your discipline will allow.
Only quote as much source material as you need. If a word will do, don't quote the whole phrase; if a phrase will do, don't quote the whole sentence; and so on.
Use appropriate punctuation to alter the quote as needed.
You can remove material from a quote and insert ellipsis points (...). Three points to replace in-sentence material; four points to replace material between sentences. You can add context or other wording to a quote in brackets . Be careful not to alter or add to the quote in a way that changes its original meaning.
Another Person's Ideas or Work
When Writing About
Treat the idea as you would other forms of source material.
Remember the decorative patch metaphor: you want your reader to see what you're up to. Name the idea's originator in the sentences where you discuss that idea. If you spend a whole paragraph discussing the idea, reference its originator repeatedly. Typically, it's good to repeat yourself when attributing ideas or source material to their originators.
Give your reader a way to research the idea on their own.
Use parenthetical citations, footnotes, or endnotes (depending on the style you're working with), to refer your readers to additional sources of information on that idea, especially if you don't discuss it at length. Providing these references demonstrates your authority on the idea.
Use quotation marks as needed.
If you incorporate certain key words or phrases that the idea's originator used to describe it, mark them off with quotation marks and cite them according to your style guide.
Condenses the whole source or a large part of it.
Provides broad context for paraphrases and direct quotations.
Emphasizes the authority of your source.
Preserves striking language or imagery.
Calls attention to a unique idea or point of view.
Highlights specific information that will strengthen your argument.
Different disciplines have different expectations when it comes to integrating evidence. For instance, direct quotations should be used very sparingly in hard science and social science writing, but can be used more freely in humanities writing. Ask your instructor about the expectations in your discipline.
Offers concise descriptions of ideas, claims, or information from your sources.
Integrates source material without disrupting the flow of your own prose.
Why plagiarism occurs
When and when not to cite
Strategies for note-taking
Incorporating source material
"Avoiding Plagiarism," The Purdue Online Writing Lab
"All About Plagiarism," The University of Texas Libraries
Forgetting to put quotation marks around quoted material.
Using the words of another source too closely when paraphrasing
Effective writers have to...
Demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness.
Convey authority on their particular topic.
Participate in conversations responsibly.
In the United States...
It's all about
Writing Challenges in the USA
that make avoiding plagiarism tricky
What Should I Cite
a source's exact words or a unique phrase
other people's visual materials: diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, etc.
electronically-available media: images, audio, video, etc.
words, ideas, or visual material from any artistic or communicative medium, i.e. magazines, books, songs, TV programs, web pages, etc.
material you gain through interviewing, conversing with, or listening to another person.
"Fruit and vegetables are a necessary part of a healthy diet."
"Writing and composition instructors believe that giving student writers feedback is important to their improvement as writers."
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