A Statement on Plagiarism
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A Statement on Plagiarism
Using someone elses ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as our own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense known as plagiarism. “Ideas or phrasing” includes written or spoken material, of course вЂ” from whole papers and paragraphs to sentences, and, indeed, phrases вЂ” but it also includes statistics, lab results, art work, etc. “Someone else” can mean a professional source, such as a published writer or critic in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or journal; an electronic resource such as material we discover on the World Wide Web; another student at our school or anywhere else; a paper-writing “service” (online or otherwise) which offers to sell written papers for a fee.
Let us suppose, for example, that were doing a paper for Music Appreciation on the child prodigy years of the composer and pianist Franz Liszt and that weve read about the development of the young artist in several sources. In Alan Walkers book Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years (Ithaca: 1983), we read that Liszts father encouraged him, at age six, to play the piano from memory, to sight-read music and, above all, to improvise. We can report in our paper (and in our own words) that Liszt was probably the most gifted of the child prodigies making their mark in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century вЂ” because that is the kind of information we could have gotten from a number of sources; it has become what we call common knowledge.
However, if we report on the boys fathers role in the prodigys development, we should give proper credit to Alan Walker. We could write, for instance, the following: Franz Liszts father encouraged him, as early as age six, to practice skills which later served him as an internationally recognized prodigy (Walker 59). Or, we could write something like this: Alan Walker notes that, under the tutelage of his father, Franz Liszt began work in earnest on his piano playing at the age of six (59). Not to give Walker credit for this important information is plagiarism.
Some More Examples
(The examples below were originally written by the writing center staff at an esteemed college; that institution has asked us to remove its name from this Web page.) The original text from Elaine Tyler Mays “Myths and Realities of the American Family” reads as follows:
Because womens wages often continue to reflect the fiction that men earn the family wage, single mothers rarely earn enough to support themselves and their children adequately. And because work is still organized around the assumption that mothers stay home with children, even though few mothers can afford to do so, child-care facilities in the United States remain woefully inadequate.
Here are some possible uses of this text. As you read through each version, try to decide if it is a legitimate use of Mays text or a plagiarism.
Since womens wages often continue to reflect the mistaken notion that men are the main wage earners in the family, single mothers rarely make enough to support themselves and their children very well. Also, because work is still based on the assumption that mothers stay home with children, facilities for child care remain woefully inadequate in the United States.
Plagiarism: In Version A there is too much direct borrowing of sentence structure and wording. The writer changes some words, drops one phrase, and adds some new language, but the overall text closely resembles Mays. Even with a citation, the writer is still plagiarizing because the lack of quotation marks indicates that Version A is a paraphrase, and should thus be in the writers own language.
As Elaine Tyler May points out, “womens wages often continue to reflect the fiction that men earn the family wage” (588). Thus many single mothers cannot support themselves and their children adequately. Furthermore, since work is based on the assumption that mothers stay home with children, facilities for day care in this country are still “woefully inadequate.” (May 589).
Plagiarism: The writer now cites May, so were closer to telling the truth about the relationship of our text to the source, but this text continues to borrow too much language.