English Composition I
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There are two standard ways to acknowledge that a writer has used information from a source:
“According to ...” -- this method is very informal in that you are simply indicating the source in passing. At a minimum, the writer should indicate the name of the author. The writer can also identify the name of the magazine or book, but too much information in the “according to” phrase gets distracting to the reader. After all, the emphasis should be on the ideas, not the source of the ideas. When citing an Internet source, it is often necessary to identify the website, since the author can be hard to identify. If there IS an author, the “according to” should reference the author, but if not, you might find yourself with a reference like “according to WebMD.com,”.
(author ##) – the more formal method of referencing is also called citation. In the MLA version of citation, the writer identifies, inside parentheses, the author’s last name and the specific page number of the information (not a wide range of pages like 13-34). There is no comma between the two pieces of information. Examples would be: (Smith 32) (Formaggio 2456) (Tartt 3). If you are referencing a webpage, you need to cite by paragraph, since different printers will print different numbers of pages. Use the ¶ symbol or the abbreviation par to indicate that it’s a paragraph number, not a page number). Examples would be: (Koop ¶12) (Gach ¶9) (Smith par 14). For more information on this method of referencing a source, read the first few pages of the MLA Citation Guide available from the class website.
Quoting :Quoting a source is usually safe, as long as you remember to punctuate it properly. NOT punctuating a direct quote clearly as a direct quote is plagiarism, pure and simple. The source of a quote should always be clearly identified before the quotation itself, usually with an “according to author” statement before or an MLA parentheses (Author ##) at the end.
Standard Quote Example: The quotation has to be the EXACT duplicate of the original if it is presented in quotation marks as a direct quotation.
Henry David Thoreau once said , "The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies."
Long Quote Example: Henry David Thoreau, in "Civil Disobedience" says:
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens.
Notice that since I quoted more than four typed lines, I had to indent each line one full inch, or double the normal paragraph indent. You DO NOT indent both sides. That used to be the format, but not any longer.
Shortened Quote Example: Thoreau is a long-winded guy. You might want to quote him, but not everything he said. Then you would use ellipses (...) like such:
Henry David Thoreau once said , "The mass of men serve the state...as machines..."
Note that the ellipses show where you have eliminated part of the quote. The quote as it is presented still needs to be the ideas as written by the author. A writer CAN NOT use ellipses to change the original author’s views.
Partial Quote Example: Writers often find themselves OVER-quoting. There’s no reason to quote a whole sentence from the original source if you only really need to use part of a sentence.
Thoreau's views on independence and self-will were very strong. He felt that any person who just did what they were told no matter what "command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt"
Paraphrasing : Paraphrasing is a very valuable skill to be able to use when you are doing writing that requires you to use information gathered from other writers. Rather than simply quoting everything that you want to use and having your paper read like a patchwork quilt of different writing styles and patterns, paraphrasing allows you to make your information read smoothly and efficiently for the reader.
Robert McIntyre, in an article about corporate tax loopholes in The American Prospect (Nov. 4, 2002) writes:
In calling our tax system “worldwide,” the lobbyists conveniently ignore a huge exception to that supposed rule: U.S. taxes on foreign profits are deferred indefinitely. And in the rare cases in which companies decide to waive deferral, U.S. taxes are almost always completely offset by a credit for taxes paid to foreign governments.
Instead of quoting these original sentences and running the risk of your readers not understanding McIntyre’s point, you can paraphrase them:
According to Robert McIntyre, U.S. corporations that claim to move out of the U.S. because of our unfair taxing of their foreign earnings are ignoring the fact that under U.S. tax law, they have no obligation to pay taxes on foreign earnings.
Notice that this paraphrase does not change the meaning or content of the original source, but it does help the reader see the significance of the information and how it helps build the writer's argument. Note that the paraphrase allows the writer to focus on the important content from the source.
THIS IS NOT PLAGIARISM. The original source of the information is clearly
identified with the “according to ...” statement at the beginning. An MLA
parentheses at the end (author ##) could also have been used if the writer
wanted to. The rest of the paragraph should be based on the writer’s views,
analysis and understanding of the issue, not McIntyre’s argument, however. If
the entire paragraph is just a summary of McIntyre, then the author is flirting
with plagiarism (at the very least, they are being lazy).
What is Plagiarism?
The most common misconception, of both students and instructors, is that plagiarism has to do primarily with not citing direct quotes. While this may be the most common understood form of plagiarism, it is not the sum total of plagiarism.
If those ideas were given on TV, or an interview, or in a song, it doesn’t matter. If the information or idea is good enough to use in your paper, it should be good enough to give credit. If you are too ashamed of where the information came from to give credit, then why are you using it?