DATE: January 18, 2014
SUBJECT: Executive Summary on article: What Is Plagiarism?
The purpose of this memo is to summarize the Georgetown University Honor Council article, What Is Plagiarism? Plagiarism is using someone else’s work and presenting it as your own or without giving proper credit to the source of information. The article addresses several aspects and misconceptions of plagiarism such as using the words of others, paraphrasing, using the internet, time constraints, citations, collaboration, differing views, ignorance, and copyright issues.
USING THE WORDS OF OTHERS
In academia, using the words of others is necessary to build on their works. Oftentimes, people think they can use the words of others if they cite the source. But using someone’s words for the entire paper is wrong because, in essence, that is not writing but putting together a paper. In addition, using specific phrases without indicating the original source is plagiarism. Simply referencing a source in a bibliography is also an act of plagiarism. Writers should thoroughly read a document and extract the most important points and then express those ideas in their own words while acknowledging the work of others and the use of it to support the argument.
Paraphrasing is restating someone else’s thoughts in your own words and it is a common tool in both written and verbal communication. Rewriting someone’s ideas using your own words is still using the works of others. Even when paraphrasing, one must cite the original source of information. Nowadays, the use of word processors to edit, reorganize, and change words is common when paraphrasing. Using word processors to polish someone else’s work instead of using your own words is assembling, not writing.
THE INTERNET AS A SOURCE
The Internet is a common source of information and for many, the primary. The Internet’s prevalence has made plagiarism a larger problem than ever. Books, articles, academic papers and other works are now in digital form and the ease of access afforded when using the Internet as a research tool will tempt many to cut corners. Students who choose to download papers or take information from a digital source and simply rearrange and reword the ideas are not only committing plagiarism but they are also limiting their own intellectual development. Using the Web as a source is fairly new and there are diverse views on how best to cite digital works. Citation work should be done at the time of writing and not left for the end. Writing should begin on a blank paper instead of cutting and pasting from various sources. Cutting and pasting should be kept to a minimum and when used, should be properly cited.
People lead busy lives and often fail to devote ample time to writing. The lack of preparation will lead many to commit plagiarism in order to avoid turning a paper in late and receiving a lower grade. Choosing to plagiarize could have severe consequences on the academic record and personal reputation. Should someone find themselves with little time to complete an assignment, they should explain to the professor the situation rather than risking a red mark on the permanent transcript. A lesser grade may be applied to the work but it is better than to be sanctioned or dismissed.
When using someone else’s words verbatim, the passage must be in quotation marks. Further, if the passage is longer than three lines a new line should be started and indented and the source cited at the end of the paragraph. Should the quotations be omitted, you may be accused of plagiarizing. There are several styles of citing but the main purpose for them is to present clear information. When citing, a writer should include the names of the author, book, publisher as well as the date, place of publication, and page of the quotation. Web pages are more difficult to cite because many