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Avoiding Plagiarism: Quotes & Paraphrase


Plagiarism, Paraphrase, and Summary

Plagiarism

is loosely defined as the use of another person's words or ideas without giving any credit or making acknowledgment of the original source . This is true for both written texts (essays, articles, books, web pages) and for spoken language (speeches, lectures, interviews).

Paraphrase

is used when you want to convey the same ideas as another writer in roughly the same amount of language, entirely in your own words and sentence structure. You must still acknowledge the original source, but paraphrase allows you to work those ideas seamlessly into your own writing.

Summary

is when you use your own words to reduce another person's language and ideas to a brief overview, excluding all but the most significant supporting details . The language used in a summary should be your own, and it should take considerably less room than the original passage. The ideas identified in a summary should be attributed to the original author.


You must put " quotation marks " around any exact wording that you borrow, including phrases and sometimes even words. A quotation should always fit logically into your own sentence.

For example: She told me to "get a job" and then stormed out of the room!

Use "quotation marks" around the titles of essays, book chapters, short stories, journal & newspaper articles, songs, and poems.

Italicize the titles of books, plays, films, journals and magazines, music CDs & other collections, and long (epic length) poems.


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HOW TO QUOTE FROM A TEXT USING MLA CITATION

In academic writing, you should make a habit of establishing the relevance of any quotation to the paper that you are writing. As you begin to quote from another source, introduce that source to your readers. One way to do so is to create a signal phrase, so named because it signals the reader that a quote, paraphrase, or summary is coming. The following paragraph demonstrates how to quote from a printed text.

In her book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Gloria Anzaldua wrote:

the switching of "codes" in this book from English to Castilian Spanish to the North Mexican dialect to Tex-Mex to a sprinkling of Nahuatl to a mixture of all of these, reflects my language, a new language-the language of the Borderlands. There, at the juncture of cultures, languages cross-pollinate and are revitalized; they die and are born . . . . Today [in 1987] we ask to be met halfway. This book is our invitation to you-from the new mestizas. (3)

Anzaldua wrote Borderlands when many Latina women writers were finding their voices, and she continued through her vibrant career to be an outspoken advocate for women writers.

  1. When you are quoting four or more llines of text, you must arrange the material in block quote format. Indent your paragraph two tabs or ten spaces from the left margin (only). In MLA format, the body of the paper and the block quote should be double-spaced.
  2. The introductory signal phrase that begins "In her book..." informs the reader that the voice of the writer is going to change and tells the reading audience whose voice it will be.
  3. The next phrase, "Gloria Anzaldua wrote that," sets up the quote so that the writer can begin mid-sentence. Notice that the phrase is followed by a colon (:), which signals to the reader that a long quote is to follow.
  4. Within the body of the paper any exact words from Anzaldua's book are indicated within the quotation marks. If the author's words are placed in block quotes, as above, quotations marks are unnecessary.
  5. The ellipsis ( . . . ) indicates that the student-writer (borrower) has deleted part of Andalzua's original passage not considered relevant to the point she is making. If the writer deletes a full sentence or more in the middle of a quoted passage, she should use a period before the three ellipsis dots.
  6. Brackets [ ] indicate that the borrower has inserted something not found in the original, sometimes changing pronouns for a better fit within the sentence or for clarifications related to the borrower's ideas.
  7. In block quotes, the page number of the quoted text is cited in parenthesis after the period. If the author had not included Anzaldua's name in the introductory signal phrase, the in-text citation would include it: (Anzaldua 3). In passages of less than four lines, and therefore not requiring block quotation, the student-writer should provide an in-text parenthetical citation after that quoted material and place the period outside the parenthesis. "Andalzua writer that her book reflects "a new language--the language of the Borderlands" (3).
  8. After introducing the original author by first and last name, refer to that author by last name only. Never use the author's first name only.
  9. Notice the continuation of the pargraph below the block quote. The paragraph continues from the signal phrase above (since it is not indented). The student-writer can continue in this section to develop his/her response to the material presented in the block quote. When a writer employs a large passage of text, reader expectation is that the student-writer will provide critical, thoughtful analysis of the quoted text.
  10. Finally, limit block quotes in your academic papers. The student-writer should not rely too heavily on large passages of material from other writers. (The reader can always go directly to the primary source, if she wants to read the text under analysis!) Often one or two lines of quoted material from a source will allow plentiful material for a student's analysis.

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Examples of Plagiarism

The following passage and sample attempts to plagiarize come from the Northeastern University policy on plagiarism, originally written in 1970 by Dr. M. X. Lessor and revised by Dr. Stuart Peterfreund in 1991.

Below you will find an example paragraph from Richard Bridgman's The Colloquial Style in America (1966), pp. 9-10, about Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn . Following Bridgman's paragraph are examples of writers borrowing from Bridgman's text, using direct quotation and paraphrase with acknowledgment - both of which are acceptable. Following these, you will see examples of three types of plagiarism : word-for-word , close paraphrase , and patchwork . Portions borrowed from the original passage appear in bolded italics in each example.

ORIGINAL PASSAGE:

Mark Twain's use of a boy as narrator in Huckleberry Finn provided American writers one important entry to the language and homely particulars of American life. In that story we hear no condescending adult voice by which Huck can be judged insufficient. His idiom is the standard. And because Huck is a boy, not only is his language natural to him, but his attitude toward the world of particulars around him is one of unremitting interest. His quiet concentration upon all that surrounds him invests the commonplace world with dignity, seriousness, and an unforeseen beauty that radiates through the very words he uses. An adult is tainted with stylistic original sin-double vision, awareness of tradition, vanity. Huck's style is prelapsarian in its innocence and single-minded directness. That is its excellence, but its limitation too, for although Huck saw deeply, his was a narrow vision. After the example of Huckleberry Finn, writers had to learn how to overcome the limits of his restricting viewpoint (Bridgman 9).

DIRECT QUOTATION (ACCEPTABLE):

Thumbing through the opening pages of Huckleberry Finn reveals a startling narrative device: the story is told by a boy whose speech is not completely grammatical. And yet no one intrudes, comments, or corrects-not Mark Twain, not even his mother, Mrs. Clemens. In fact, there is "no condescending adult voice by which Huck can be judged insufficient. His idiom is the standard. . . . [His] style is prelapsarian in its innocence and single-minded directness" (Bridgman 9).

Only the exact quotation is language borrowed from the original passage. Since the ideas are still Bridgman's, the borrower must acknowledge this source either when introducing the quote, or as an "in-text citation" at the close of the quoted passage.

PARAPHRASE WITH ACKNOWLEDGMENT (ACCEPTABLE):

Huck's telling his own story is an effective but limiting narrative technique. Because he is a boy, he has the wonder and the words appropriate for his age. That means that the world is refracted through innocent eyes, and that each event has its own importance. But it also means that Huck's experience is a boy's experience, and the resultant knowledge is also a boy's. His words, however apt, cannot render the world whole. Subsequent writers, while noting the significance of Twain's innovation, must necessarily move beyond it ( Bridgman 9).

None of the above language is borrowed from the original passage, so quotation marks are not required. But since the ideas are still Bridgman's, the borrower must acknowledge this source. Paraphrasing allows the writer to use his/her own words, but at the same time shows the reader that these words have been influenced by the thought and words of a (qualified) predecessor. Any failure to acknowledge a primary or secondary source results in plagiarism.

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UNACCEPTABLE FORMS OF PLAGIARISM

(original passage is on the left for comparison):

Word-for-word Plagiarism

The passage below steals language in whole phrases and clauses from the original. There is no reference to the original author, and the borrower has "kidnapped" Bridgman's language.

Original Passage

Mark Twain's use of a boy as narrator in Huckleberry Finn provided American writers one important entry to the language and homely particulars of American life . In that story we hear no condescending adult voice by which Huck can be judged insufficient. His idiom is the standard. And because Huck is a boy, not only is his language natural to him, but his attitude toward the world of particulars around him is one of unremitting interest. His quiet concentration upon all that surrounds him invests the commonplace world with dignity, seriousness, and an unforeseen beauty that radiates through the very words he uses. An adult is tainted with stylistic original sin-double vision, awareness of tradition, vanity. Huck's style is prelapsarian in its innocence and single-minded directness . That is its excellence, but its limitation too, for although Huck saw deeply, his was a narrow vision. After the example of Huckleberry Finn, writers had to learn how to overcome the limits of his restricting viewpoint (Bridgman 9).

Plagiarized Passage

American writers were given an important entry to the language and homely particulars of American life when Mark Twain used a boy as narrator in Huckleberry Finn. In that story we hear no condescending adult voice by which Huck can be judged insufficient. His idiom is the standard. His quiet concentration upon all that surrounds him invests the commonplace world with dignity , and his innocence and single-minded directness lends truth to his observations.

 

Close Paraphrase Plagiarism:

The original passage is in plain text below (O). Plagiarized passage follows in italics ( P ). In this example, the italicized paraphrase keeps the same sequence of ideas and some of the same language as the original. There are a few insertions and substitutions of synonyms (words close in meaning to the original), but regardless, this is a form of PLAGIARISM. Doing away with all original language but using synonyms in place of existing language in the same sentence format--presenting ideas in the same order as the original--also constitutes plagiarism.


O: Mark Twain's use of a boy as narrator in Huckleberry Finn provided American writers one important
P: Mark Twain utilized a boy as a narrator in his classic, Huckleberry Finn, and gave native writers an

O: entry to the language and homely particulars of American life. In that story we hear no
P: opening wedge into the language and particulars of ante-bellum America. In that novel there is no

O: condescending adult voice by which Huck can be judged insufficient. His idiom is the standard. . . .
P: condescending adult voice to judge Huck by. On the contrary, his way with words is the standard.

O: Huck's style is prelapsarian in its innocence and single-minded directness.
P: His style is Adamic in its simplicity and forthrightness.

Patchwork Plagiarism

Stealing just a few exact phrases without quotes even when acknowledging the source is considered PLAGIARISM. Exceptions to this rule may occur when using professional or academic jargon (terms commonly understood and shared within the discipline or profession under discussion). However, this example does not use jargon that can't be reworded.

Original Passage

Mark Twain's use of a boy as narrator in Huckleberry Finn provided American writers one important entry to the language and homely particulars of American life. In that story we hear no condescending adult voice by which Huck can be judged insufficient. His idiom is the standard. And because Huck is a boy, not only is his language natural to him, but his attitude toward the world of particulars around him is one of unremitting interest. His quiet concentration upon all that surrounds him invests the commonplace world with dignity , seriousness, and an unforeseen beauty that radiates through the very words he uses. An adult is tainted with stylistic original sin-double vision, awareness of tradition, vanity. Huck's style is prelapsarian in its innocence and single-minded directness. That is its excellence, but its limitation too, for although Huck saw deeply, his was a narrow vision. After the example of Huckleberry Finn, writers had to learn how to overcome the limits of his restricting viewpoint (Bridgman 9).

Plagiarized Passage

Unlike that other book by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , there is no condescending adult voice in Huckleberry Finn . The words are all Huck's, and because he is young and inquisitive, what he tells us has an interest and freshness all its own. His quiet concentration makes the commonplace world a thing of dignity and beauty . It is as if everything is seen for the first time (Bridgman 9).

 

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