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Writing Program

Avoiding Plagiarism

D. Battles, English

Plagiarism means using someone else's writing in your paper without crediting the author.  This can involve both 1) stealing words (e.g. copying what someone else has written and calling it your own, and/or 2) stealing ideas (putting someone else's ideas into your own words and claiming credit for those ideas; even if you use your own words, it is still plagiarism).

Exercises:

1. The excerpt below is followed by a passage from a student essay that makes use of all of the ideas and words of the source without acknowledging that source at all.  First, compare the original with the plagiarized passage.  Second, insert the appropriate quotation marks.  Third, underline the paraphrases. Fourth, include an appropriate citation method to document the original source.

          The households of great men were almost always on the move.  Kings, bishops, and the higher aristocracy had properties in many places and would travel from one to another.  Business, pleasure, or ceremony might also take them on the road:  royal councils and ecclesiastical assemblies, hunting and tournaments, church dedications, coronations and pilgrimages, all required the large and voracious aristocratic household to journey across the country.  It has been calculated that King John's court moved, on average, thirteen or fourteen times a month.  His retinue could thus expect to sleep in the same place for only two or three nights in a row.

                    From Robert Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225, p. 133.

Student Paper:

          The households of wealthy citizens were almost always on the move.  Kings, bishops, and rich people had properties in many places and would travel in between them regularly for business, pleasure or various ceremonies.  Wealthy people needed large households to journey across the country for royal councils and ecclesiastical assemblies, hunting and tournaments, church dedications, coronations and pilgrimages.  It has been estimated that King John's court moved about thirteen or fourteen times a month.  His retinue could thus expect to sleep in the same place for only two or three nights in a row.

  1. Identifying what needs to be cited and what is common knowledge.  Of the following facts, which can we assume most people would know and which seem to represent more specialized information:
  1. Hanover College was founded in 1827.
  2. The Brown Campus Center was built in 1952 by the Johnson Construction Firm.
  3. Hanover College is a small liberal arts college.
  4. Hanover enrolls roughly 300 students per year, with girls generally outnumbering boys.