A Article by bianca

Author: PRO bianca
Created: March 19, 2010 at 01:11 am
Upload Type: Article, G (All)  
Category: Educational | Non Fiction | Justice/Legal
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Plagiarism: Identifying & Avoiding It

Whether you are a student, a professional or something in the middle, plagiarism is wrong no matter how you spin it. People often use flimsy terms like “copy” or “borrow” when in fact, plagiarism is very much a serious act of fraud that can cost you your education, job and of course, your reputation.

Before we continue, we should properly identify what plagiarism is. Plagiarizing, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, is:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source intransitive verb
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

But can words and ideas really be stolen?
According to U.S. law, the answer is yes. The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is therefore protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection/intellectual property as long as they are recorded in some way (such as a book or a computer file).

All of the following are considered plagiarism:
  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quote in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)

What About Common Knowledge & Paraphrasing?
Much of our knowledge comes from textbooks, teachers, exchanges of ideas and other sources but that instruction is meant to be a building block for you to be able to develop your own original thoughts and ideas. When you are incorporating some of that knowledge in your own writing, it is important that you give proper credit and cite your sources.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, paraphrasing is a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form. It is essentially using your own words to give another person’s ideas new meaning. While this is perfectly fine, and a valuable skill, there is a thin but distinct line between paraphrasing and plagiarizing. Changing a few words, the sentence structure or adding to the original text is not considered paraphrasing.

How to Effectively Paraphrase:
Read the original text in its entirety, set it aside and then create your own version based on the information you learned from the text. Go back and re-read both versions and make sure your ideas are factual, based on your own words and in a new form. You should also properly cite your source(s) so that credit is given to the original author.

How to avoid Plagiarism?
Get acquainted with citations and give credit where credit is due. Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and providing your reader with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent plagiarism. Whenever in doubt, cite your source!

Last Modified: March 19, 2010 at 02:00 am
© bianca - all rights reserved

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Comments & Reviews ( X 1)

January 27, 2012
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Another intelligent write
Another intelligent write and one that gripes me more than any other-someone on here had the audacity to post Eliza's poem about the spring as there own-word for word-but they withdrew it when I tipped Eliza off and another would be poet posted the words of the song Careless Whisper as there own, without any explanation-until I pointed out that one shouldn't really be doing this-yes I am against plagarism.

There are no comments on this review.

June 15, 2010
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Great information
Another useful article. Thank you.


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May 13, 2010
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I obviously keep a journal constantly, I thought the definitions listed here were useful.

I make sure, if it is even in my journal, to cite where it came from, author, etc.

My journal is only ever seen by my forces.

Obviously, I have my own army huh, lol. : )

Anyways, people deserve credit, bottom line.

That is like money, right> get it.

Great job, Bianca. : )

That's very good, INEVERDIE. It's good practice to do so, even if no one is going to see it. I could not agree more with you. Credit should always be given to author, no matter what. Thanks for commenting

  bianca replied on May 13, 2010

May 10, 2010
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A plain and straight-forward explanation that makes sense. Everyone who writes should read this before embarking on their first essay at any form of literature.

I do have one query; many writers have used a few snatches of someone else as an allusion to that writers work. James Joyce and T.S. Eliot are obvious examples. They are not plagiarising because they expect their readers to be well read in the classics and so to recognise Dante, Shakespeare, Vergil and Homer. Part of the fun of reading their work is the literary detective research needed to be able to understand the text fully. The Bible is another source frequently used without citation, because the author expects the reader to be able to recognise the piece. I admit that I have written a couple of poems using this technique; using snatches of other people as allusions to their work, not claiming it as my own but playing a game with the reader to see if they can catch all the references. For instance quotes like "those are the pearls that were his eyes", "tyger, tyger burning bright", "king of a rainy country", "once more into the breach", etc. are instantly recognisable by anyone who has read a reasonable amount of poetry. If used in this way the quote must be obvious and very short, a pointer to the work it comes from and not something that you are claiming as original. There is a problem though if the reader is pre-College age in that they are more likely to recognise 'catch-phrases' from TV than the classics.

I have just added "A pastiche" to my poems as an example of what I am talking about.

 satyr replied on May 10, 2010

You make some really good points here. I am in no way an expert on the subject, but I can tell you that the difference to remember is whether what you are copying is considered plagiarism or copyright infringement.

Plagiarism is when you use someone's work without giving proper credit. This is generally enforced by schools.

Copyright infringement is when you use someone's work without authorization or compensation (especially when it affects the potential market value). This is enforced by the courts.

There are many factors that go into this, such as, how much of the text have you used? The "fair use" exemption allows you to legally copy small amounts of someone else's work (I believe the number is 1% but I may be wrong). So using your question, if you were to copy a small line such as "king of a rainy country", I don't believe it would qualify as plagiarism or copyright infringement because the amount used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole is very small.

Your bible reference would also probably fall under fair use because it is used for nonprofit, educational purposes. When quoting the bible, you should still cite your source especially if you are writing an article or essay (as good practice). If you do not cite it and try to pass it off as your own, it "may" be looked at as plagiarism, but not copyright infringement because, as far as I know, the written text in the bible does not have a copyright.

In order for it to be classified as copyright infringement, someone needs to actively hold the copyright to the work in question. If the author is unknown, no copyright can exist. If the author is deceased (like in most cases of classic literature/poetry), the writing becomes "Public Domain" and is available for anyone to use freely for any purpose.

In cases of using quotes, you should put the quote inside quotation marks to show that they are not your own words, even when including the quote in your poetry. But again, if the quote is small and/or does not have a copyright and/or will not affect the market value, it would likely fall under fair use.

  bianca replied on May 10, 2010

In fact copyright only lasts for a length of time and, although attempts have been made to standardise the length used it does vary in some countries. This is a wiki table: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries'_copyright_length that shows the different terms. Plagiarism is plagiarism and depends on the intent; if the writer intends to pass it as his/her own work then it is plagiarism, if they intend readers to pick up the allusions then it is not. All my examples were out of copyright as the writer has been dead more than 70 years.

Baudelaire's 'King of a rainy country is a splendid poem:

Je suis comme le roi d'un pays pluvieux,
Riche, mais impuissant, jeune et pourtant très vieux,
Qui, de ses précepteurs méprisant les courbettes,
S'ennuie avec ses chiens comme avec d'autres bêtes.
Rien ne peut l'égayer, ni gibier, ni faucon,
Ni son peuple mourant en face du balcon.
Du bouffon favori la grotesque ballade
Ne distrait plus le front de ce cruel malade;
Son lit fleurdelisé se transforme en tombeau,
Et les dames d'atour, pour qui tout prince est beau,
Ne savent plus trouver d'impudique toilette
Pour tirer un souris de ce jeune squelette.
Le savant qui lui fait de l'or n'a jamais pu
De son être extirper l'élément corrompu,
Et dans ces bains de sang qui des Romains nous viennent,
Et dont sur leurs vieux jours les puissants se souviennent,
II n'a su réchauffer ce cadavre hébété
Où coule au lieu de sang l'eau verte du Léthé

Now I wish I could write like that!

 satyr replied on May 10, 2010

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