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Avoiding Plagiarism: Scholarly Conversation as Dinner Party Prepared for the STH Library
Published on May 16, 2016
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Scholarly Conversation as Dinner Party
Prepared for the STH Library
You may have read the STH and GRS Academic Conduct Code and gotten confused as to what plagiarism is...
Let us try to help!
Every paper you write, you become a part of a scholarly conversation!
Kathleen Tyler Conklin
Your original idea matters, but don't forget the ideas of others before you!
Imagine the conversation about the subject you are writing your next paper on as a dinner party conversation.
Everyone who has ever wrote on the subject of your paper is there!
Two of our dinner party guests, Jane and Jack, are sharing their work.
Imagine Jane says: “I think that using cat treats as a basis of currency is a fundamentally flawed idea- and it is my strong belief that this is an idea that was introduced by cats.”
And then Jack says later: “I think that using cat treats as a basis of currency is a fundamentally flawed idea- and it is my strong belief that this is an idea that was introduced by cats.”
Of course that isn't okay! Wouldn't Jane say something? It's a lot harder to claim someone's idea as your own when you are at the same fancy party as them!
Jack should have given Jane credit for the whole phrase. That includes putting quotes around the entire phrase he borrowed word-for-word if in writing.
What if Jack instead tries: “What a fundamentally flawed idea using cat treats as money is! Clearly, this is an idea introduced by cats and being pushed by the Big Kitty lobby.”
Did Jack act ethically here?
Jane can still say Jack took her idea, even if Jack changed most of the words and borrowed only a couple of phrases from her. How embarrassing!
Vernon Barford School Library
Jack should have cited Jane and put quotes around the phrases he borrowed word-for-word if in writing (like "fundamentally flawed.")
MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito)
OK, OK, Jack says, how about this:
“The thought of using the cat treat as legal tender is a preposterous, ludicrous one. Evidence seems to point that the beneficiary of such a proposal- the cat- put forward the idea.”
Is Jack in the clear?
Stuck in Customs
NO! Even if all the words are Jack's, it is still Jane's original idea! Jane would still be angry!
Although Jack didn't borrow anything word-for-word, he just took the same idea and re-wrote it. Jane should still be cited.
: : w i n t e r t w i n e d : :
If you picture yourself at a party, share your work, and imagine someone angrily shouting "THAT'S MY IDEA!"...
You should cite it.
There is one exception.
Widely known, indisputable facts that can be found in a variety of different places don't need to be cited.
For example, no need to cite the fact that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826.
Your dinner parties will go much smoother.
The U.S. Army
That said, WHEN IN DOUBT, CITE!!!
Check our the "Cite Your Sources" page, under For Students, for help with citation!
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