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Plagiarism means using someone else's work without giving them credit.
In your writing, you must give credit whenever you use information that you found in a source, unless it is common knowledge (see below). Always give your source for:
Common knowledge is information that is widely available. If you saw the same fact repeated in most of your sources, and if your reader is likely to already know this fact, it is probably common knowledge. For example, the fact that Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia in 2000 is common knowledge.
Sometimes, plagiarism is obvious. Copying a lab report from another student and buying a research paper over the Internet are clear examples of plagiarism. But plagiarism can also be accidental. Following these tips will help you avoid accidental plagiarism.
Unacceptable paraphrasing and misuse of credits are the most common causes of accidental plagiarism. Here are examples of these problems-and some solutions.
A pro-market reformer, Vladimir Putin vows to revitalize the economy, fight corruption, subvert Communism, and build a stronger nation.
The writer has dropped and changed a few words, but otherwise just copied the source.
Remember! When words are taken from a source, they must be 1) copied exactly; 2) enclosed in quotation marks; and 3) followed by a credit.
A democratic reformer who is pro-market, Vladimir Putin has promised to reenergize the failing economy, battle corruption, destroy Communism, and develop a powerful Russia.
The writer has changed a few words, but the sentence structure and much of the wording are the same as in the source. The writing is too similar to the source to count as original.
Remember! An acceptable paraphrase changes both the sentence structure and the wording.
So, what if the writer had added a source credit to the end? Would that make it acceptable? Well, no. Here's why.
A pro-market reformer, Vladimir Putin has promised to reenergize the failing economy, battle corruption, destroy Communism, and develop a powerful Russia. (Rowen.)
The writer does give a source credit. However, the paraphrasing is unacceptable (see above), and it does not become acceptable just because a source credit is added. The purpose of a source credit is to tell where information came from. Unless the writer is using a quotation, the information must always be restated in an original way.
Remember! The writer must either copy the source exactly and use quotation marks, or paraphrase the source acceptably. Both options require source credits.
Vladimir Putin has promised various reforms. (Rowen.) Jump-starting Russia's economy, fighting government dishonesty, and strengthening the nation are among his goals.
The writer has placed the source credit in the wrong place-at the beginning, rather than the end, of a passage.
Remember! Credit your source immediately after you have used it.
A pro-market "democratic reformer," Vladimir Putin has vowed to "revitalize the foundering economy," fight corruption, and build a strong Russia. (Rowen.)
The writer has used quotation marks around some of the words, which is the correct way to treat words that are copied exactly. However, the writer has copied other words without using quotation marks.
Remember! All exact words from a source need to be enclosed in quotation marks. Using quotation marks in your research notes will help you remember where words came from.
Putin has promised various reforms, including better government integrity. He is seen as wanting to advance both democracy and economic growth. (Rowen.)
This is successful because:
Rowen calls Putin a "pro-market democratic reformer," noting his promises to advance government integrity and economic growth. (Rowen.)
This is successful because: