Washington & Lee University

Policies on Quotation, Citation, and Plagiarism

Professor
Gregory

last update: 9/8/05

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Read this whole page, and also see W&L Library: How to Avoid Plagiarism.

 

Use your own words.

When writing, you should always use your own words. Plagiarism, which is discussed in detail below, is unacceptable. Moreover, copying out of the text demonstrates, at best, only that you knew where to look for an answer to a question. I need to see that you understood the issue, and you can only show me that by using your own words. Sometimes authors use words in special ways or use special words. In those cases it permissible to use the same words, as long as you explain their special usages. It is appropriate to occasionally quote from a text, but only if you explain the meaning and relevance of the quotation—this, too, is discussed in detail below.

Plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a Honor violation. The Executive Committee requests that faculty report all cases of suspected plagiarism. The case is then investigated and usually prosecuted by the EC. A guilty verdict in a closed hearing results in either withdrawal from the university or an appeal and trial before the student body—a guilty verdict in this case results in dismissal from the university.

I have reported, and will continue to report, suspected cases of plagiarism to the EC. I consider it a personal and professional affront—contrary to all the ideals of scholarship and education.

While confirming for myself that plagiarism has been committed often takes only a few minutes with a web search engine or flipping through a text (yes, it’s that easy), the gathering and preparing of evidence, interviews and giving of testimony, take a great deal of time and energy which I would otherwise spend on honest students.

Here are some definitions of plagiarism:

  1. Plagiarism is offering someone else’s work as your own, whether one sentence or whole paragraphs, and whether from an internet source, book, periodical, or the writing of other students.
    (from http://plato.acadiau.ca/COURSES/POLS/Grieve/plagiarism.html)
     
  2. Plagiarism is representing someone else’s work as your own.

It’s plagiarism whether you use

  • a whole document,
  • a paragraph,
  • a single sentence,
  • a distinctive phrase,
  • a specialized term,
  • specific data,
  • a graphic element of any kind.

It’s also plagiarism if you use an idea developed by another as if it were your own.

If you use any work created by someone else as your own without acknowledging the creator, and if you hand in the work with your name on it, thus implying that it is your work, then you commit plagiarism.
(from http://www.english.vt.edu/~IDLE/plagiarism/plagiarism2.html)

  1. Plagiarize \'pla-je-,riz also j - -\ vb -rized; -riz·ing vt [plagiary] (1716) : to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (a created production) without crediting the source ~vi: to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source - pla·gia·riz·er
    (from Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, Ma: Merriam 1990, p. 898))

Some scenarios to consider:

This is plagiarism. By neither using quotation marks, nor citing a source, you are presenting someone else’s words (and, hence, their work or ideas) as your own.

This is plagiarism. By not using quotation marks, you are presenting someone else’s words (and, hence, their work or ideas) as your own. It makes no difference that you have included a citation, the lack of quotation marks implies that the words/ideas are your own, which they are not.

This is plagiarism. By neither using quotation marks, nor citing a source, you are presenting someone else’s words (and, hence, their work or ideas) as your own. It makes no difference that you have slightly altered the text, the lack of quotation marks implies that the words/ideas are your own, which they are not.

This is plagiarism. By not using quotation marks, you are presenting someone else’s words (and, hence, their work or ideas) as your own. It makes no difference that you have included a citation, nor that you have slightly altered the text, the lack of quotation marks implies that the words/ideas are your own, which they are not.

This is plagiarism. The lack of a citation implies that the ideas are your own, which they are not.

These scenarios should not be considered exhaustive, there are many other ways to plagiarize!

What would be appropriate? If you want to relay an idea or series of ideas which come not from you but from your source, and which cannot be considered common knowledge, then you have two options:

If you don’t feel confident that you can distinguish proper paraphrase from plagiarism, then visit the following website:

W&L Library: How to Avoid Plagiarism

I also encourage you to come and talk to me.

Quotation.

As mentioned above, copying out of the text shows at best that you knew where to look for an answer or relevant passage. It does not show that you understand the copied passage or the nature of its relevance to the issues at hand. Quotation is (appropriate) copying out of the text. Therefore, simply inserting a quotation in your paper does nothing to demonstrate your understanding to me. Here is what I suggest:

Use of special technical terms.

In writing philosophy you will often need to use technical terms (e.g., ‘analyticity’, ‘intentionality’, ‘paradigm’). These do not need to be put into quotation marks, but they do need to be defined/explained when you first use them. Of course, if the definition you give comes directly from a source it should be properly cited and, if necessary, in quotation marks. Once you have offered the initial definition, you need not quote or cite if you state the definition over again.

In some cases the philosophical issue may revolve around the definition itself, in which case there may be a common rough and ready definition of the term, as well as various authors’ proposed refinements or philosophical spins on the definition. You do not need to cite or quote the common rough and ready definition, you do need to cite the philosophical spins/refinements.

Use of outside sources (especially internet sources).

Unless explicitly required or forbidden, you always have the option of consulting outside sources (i.e., texts not assigned in class). For many assignments it is unlikely that this would help very much, but in some cases you may find it helpful. The rule is simple: properly cite such materials.

I strongly discourage you from using internet resources other than those linked through the library website or a faculty member’s website. 99% of what you will find on the web through a general search engine is CRAP. Don’t waste your time (or mine for that matter). Use your critical ability to assess the quality/credibility of the source. Go to the library instead. Any moron can put up a web page... ;-)

If you do want to use an internet resource but are unsure of the quality/credibility, come talk to me about it.

If you do use an internet resource, cite it properly. (See below.)

Citation.

Finally, I prefer parenthetical in-text citations with a list at the end of the paper containing works cited and works consulted (if any). Use the APA style of in-text citations and list of references. The following link takes you an excellent source for all sorts of citation styles and list of references styles. The one I want you to use is under the social sciences: APA in-text citations and list of references.

Research and Documnetation Online 5th Edition

When in doubt, communicate with me!