How to avoid plagiarism on a research paper

WHAT IS PLAGIARISM? Plagiarism is presenting someone else's words or ideas as your own. The following are all examples of plagiarism:

  • Quoting or paraphrasing material without citing the source of that material. Sources can include Web sites, magazines, newspapers, textbooks, journals, TV and radio programs, movies and videos, photographs and drawings, charts and graphs; any information or ideas that are not your own.
  • Quoting a source without using quotation marks -- even if you do cite it.
  • Buying a paper online or downloading a paper from a free site.
  • Copying or using work done by another student.
  • Citing sources you didn't use.
  • Turning in the same paper for more than one class without the permission of both teachers.
NOTE TAKING The best way to avoid plagiarism is to take careful notes. When taking notes, always do the following:
  • First, read the entire text and summarize it in your own words. Then paraphrase important points and copy usable quotes. Enclose quotes in quotation marks.
  • Carefully distinguish between material that is quoted, material that is paraphrased, material that is summarized, and your own words and ideas. Consider using different colored ink for each type of source.
  • Include in your notes all the information you will need to cite your sources.
  • Copy all source information into your working bibliography using the format your teacher has provided.
  • Print any Web pages you use. Write the URL and the date on the Web page if it isn't included on the printout.
  • Save all your notes and printouts until you receive your final grade.
CITING SOURCES You must cite the source of every quote, every paraphrased passage, and every summarized idea you use in a research paper. Commonly known facts, such as dates or definitions, do not need to be cited unless you take those facts directly from a specific reference source, such as an encyclopedia. If you're not sure whether a source should be cited, include it just in case. Sources must be cited both in the body of the paper and in the bibliography. In the body of the paper, you must do the following:
  • Copy quoted material exactly, enclose it in quotations marks, and name the author immediately before or after the quote. Use the same procedure for summarized or paraphrased material, but omit the quotation marks.
  • Cite the source information (title, publisher, date, and so on) for the quote or paraphrased or summarized information either in parentheses within the text or in a footnote.
  • List on a reference page at the end of your paper the information for all the sources you have cited. (This is not the same as the bibliography.)
The bibliography is a list of all the sources you used -- both those you cited and those you used for research, but did not cite directly. The bibliography should follow the format your teacher has provided.

Here is an example, in APA style, that would be considered acceptable summarizing of this passage: Nickerson (1999) argues that clear communication hinges upon what an audience does and does not know. It is crucial to assume the audience has neither too much nor too little knowledge of the subject, or the communication may be inhibited by either confusion or offense (p. 737). Notice that the writer both paraphrases Nickerson's ideas about effective communication and compresses them into two sentences. Like paraphrasing, summarizing passages is a tricky endeavor and takes lots of practice. If you're ever in doubt about whether your summary or paraphrase might be accidental plagiarism, ask your teacher.

With the election of Ronald Regan, covert operations in Latin America escalated rapidly. 6 "The influx of American funds," notes Peter Kornbluh, determined "the frequency and destructiveness of contra attachs." 7 In the early 1980s, the Regan Administration increasingly used Honduras as a base for the contra war. The Administration set up a number of military and training facilities--some American, some contra , and some housing Argengine mercenaries--along the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. "[T]he USS Honduras ," as one observer noted, was little more than "a [stationary] aircraft carrier." 8 These strategies seemed to represent both a conscious acceleration of American involvement in the region, and the inertia of past involvements and failures. 9

How to avoid plagiarism on a research paper

how to avoid plagiarism on a research paper


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