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Citations, Plagiarism, and Intellectual Property: Plagiarism and Citing

Understand Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when a person uses someone else's words or ideas without giving them proper credit. Plagiarism includes: 

  • Copying someone else's work and turning it in with your name on it
  • Reusing/Recycling your own assignments from past courses
  • Copying and pasting content from the web without citing it
  • Rewording another source but not citing it
  • Paraphrasing another source without citing it
  • Using someone else's ideas without citing

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A research paper should be a combination of your ideas and the previous research of other scholars on the same topic. You can use another scholar's words, facts and ideas, but this borrowed material must not be presented as your own creation.You should be looking for sources that provide you with new information about the topic that expands or supports your ideas.

Reusing work you did for a previous assignment-- even though it is your own-- is also considered plagiarism. Seek guidance from your instructor if you would like to cite your own work.

  • Copying someone else's work and turning it in with your name on it
  • Reusing/Recycling your own assignments from past courses (consult with your instructor about citing past assignments)
  • Copying and pasting content from the web without citing it
  • Rewording another source but not citing it
  • Paraphrasing another source without citing it
  • Using someone else's ideas without citing

A research paper should be a combination of your ideas and the previous research of other scholars on the same topic. You can use another scholar's words, facts and ideas, but this borrowed material must not be presented as your own creation.You should be looking for sources that provide you with new information about an issue--expanding or supporting your ideas.

It is your responsibility as a college student to learn and use appropriate research writing techniques.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Is It Plagiarism?

Plagiarism: Taking credit for someone’s intellectual work or ideas

Why Should You Care about Plagiarism?

  • Students can fail a class or be suspended from college if they commit plagiarism at MVC.

  • Professionals can be sued or lose a job if they commit plagiarism.

  • In American society, it is generally expected to give others credit for their work.

When Writing a Paper or Preparing for a Presentation, Ask Yourself:

  • Is this my idea or did the idea come from another source (like a book or website)?

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that most educated people, including you, know without research. Common knowledge does not need to be cited.  Facts such as a basic biography of an author, historic dates, or widely acknowledged scientific facts, do not need to be cited.

It is important to remember that common knowledge varies depending on author, audience, or discipline.  What is common knowledge to a biologist is not common knowledge to an economist. Some examples of common knowledge:

  • Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States.

  • Kim Kardashian is a reality television star.

  • The boiling point of water is 212°F.

Quoting

A quotation is a direct, word-for-word, copy from a source. Use quotations sparingly; never have your writing contain more than 25% quotations. When to use quotations:

  • If summarizing or paraphrasing cannot capture the essence or meaning of the text 

  • To retain a specific or unique phrasing used by the source's author

  • If you are analyzing the text itself (often in English or language classes)

How to use quotations

  • Place quotation marks around the entire word-for-word passage, whether it's a phrase or a sentence.

  • Attribute with an in-text citation

  • If your quotation is longer, check with your citation style guide to see if additional formatting is necessary (block quotations, for example).  

Paraphrasing

"A paraphrase precisely restates in your own words the written or spoken words of someone else," (Troyka 140). You must do more than change a few words from the original quotation or passage.

  • Do not include your own interpretation or analysis.

  • Restate the original material in its entirety.

  • Reproduce the source's ideas, analysis, or emphases.

  • Expect a paraphrase to be as long as or longer than the original stated text.

  • More thorough and detailed than a summary.

  • Citing the source: using in-text (parenthetical) citation at the end of the summary and a complete citation in the Works Cited or References page.

Summarizing

A summary is a brief statement of the main points of the original source.  Summaries DO NOT include supporting evidence or details, and are very short by nature.

  • Putting the main idea of the source material into your own words.  When reading ask: Who? What? When? Where?

  • Retaining the key relevant element of the original material. Do not include your interpretation/analysis.  The summary should present material in a neutral fashion.

  • Use your own words.  Do not pull quotations from text.

  • Citing the source: using in-text (parenthetical) citation at the end of the summary and a complete citation in the Works Cited or References page.