Chapter 8-7: Avoiding Plagiarism

Writing > Writing Essays > Avoiding Plagiarism

Examples of What Is and What Is Not Plagiarism


Read the following original text that was published in The New York Times newspaper by Katherine J. Wu:



The African crested rat gnaws on poisonous tree branches, then grooms its noxious spittle into its fur. This behaviour protects it from its predators. There are over 350,000 African crested rats on the African continent, and they are responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 dogs that would have otherwise attempted to chase them. The dogs bite or touch the rats and then die from the poison. The dogs die within three hours of touching the rat. Recently, authorities are concerned by the expansion of the rats into human territory. An infant that accidentally comes in contact with a rat could die instantly.



Now read the following citations¹ from student essays taken from the original text above. Some constitute acts of plagiarism, while others are not.

Quotation:

To clarify, "There are over 350,000 African crested rats on the African continent" (Wu).

According to Wu, "There are over 350,000 African crested rats on the African continent".

Paraphrase¹:

To clarify, a plethora of African crested rats reside in Africa (Wu).

According to Wu, a plethora of African crested rats reside in Africa.

Failure to indicate a quotation²:

To clarify, there are over 350,000 African crested rats on the African continent (Wu).

According to Wu, there are over 350,000 African crested rats on the African continent.

Failure to attribute author³:

To clarify, "There are over 350,000 African crested rats on the African continent".

To clarify, a plethora of African crested rats reside in Africa.

EXPLANATIONS

¹ Some people also refer to a paraphrase as a citation. In this sense, the two are synonyms. The word "citation" also has another meaning. As citation.org notes, "A citation is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including: information about the author." You can do a citation by providing either a quotation or a paraphrase.

² This is an example of plagiarism. Even though the student provided the author's name, this was a direct quote that they are doing, and they omitted the quotation marks (" " ).

³ This is an example of plagiarism. Here, the student is attempting to pass off the other person's research as their idea. They did not give credit to the original author.

These examples use Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting. Formatting for your assignment may be different. What is essential to understand in these examples is what makes the difference between plagiarising and not.

Consequences of Plagiarism

If you commit an act of plagiarism, you may receive severe sanctions. These sanctions vary from institution to institution and can include:

  • A warning for a first offence—many institutions do not provide a warning because they assume that after students attend high school level, they should be aware of plagiarism or that students have read the institution's plagiarism policy.

  • A penalty (ranging from light to severe) on the assignment

  • Automatic failure of the assignment

  • Automatic failure of the course

  • Expulsion from the institution

  • Expulsion from the institution with an annotation on a national academic register that all academic institutions in the country have access to

To learn more on this topic, consult your institution's policy on plagiarism.



External Resources

The following resources offer definitions on what plagiarism is and provide cues on how to avoid it:

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