Defining plagiarism

My line is well-drawn at:

“…..[number] 5. Rewriting a paragraph in your own words, with some substantial changes in language, organisation, amount of detail and examples. [and number] 6. Cutting and pasting a paragraph by placing it in quote marks and citing the original source…..”¹

Applying these conditions within one’s work ensures consistency is carried through the entire work, so there can be no doubt, as to its authenticity, and that I’ve a firm grasp of concepts, that have come from my own thinking mostly when expanding upon a point for which I’m trying to make within the essay, and for which the quoted remark(s) supports my view too, as I proceed in writing to a finished concise piece of work.

For my ‘Plan B’ would be to use ‘Footnotes’ to expound further details, as well as the quoted paragraphs within the main work, but still with the proper referencing of the source in place. Therein, the outcome is purely a growth of an academic skill of knowing: when to apply the citation, in-text quote, an indented paragraph (for a longer quote) or not.

However, there have been those rare times, when I’ve read something said much better than I’d ever write, but even quoting it, would’ve taken up two paragraphs, which would’ve been over my word limit, and I had other ideas that I wanted to express, and I couldn’t work it any better to explain the concept, nor could I re-formulate their work — without losing the plot. So I made the absolutely hard decision, to leave it out entirely from my own essay, because rather that, than a pure imitation (even with mentioning the source), and I believe, a credit to the original author, that I couldn’t use their work in that way.

As another point worth noting further: if it doesn’t fit into the essay, and would distract or go off in a tangent from the point I was making, no matter how good, it stays in the book from which it came, as I’m not stuck on quoting for quoting sake on those rare occasions, and rather have essays concise (shoe leather) rather than waffle (hell for leather). At the end of the day, to me anyway, its a matter of disciplined practice. Thats all.

As there is plenty of material and opportunity to use those discarded nuggets, book-marked each time for future use, particularly in another essay, even in an exam situation, also in a matter of conversation with an acquaintance(s) and most often; on Forums, such as we [had on the] course [TU120: Working with Information Online] with the Open University.

So, all is not lost by just having glimmers, but repeated usage is so much better, than a once-off occasion to impress any one reader.

In these circumstances, it clarifies any grey areas, that could arise from numbers two through to number four, in the definition of plagiarism, and would be, for me, the ‘dotted-lines’ (see footnote) and above number two is another solid line to number one that stated “… copying a paragraph word-for-word from a book, journal, web page or other printed or electronic source without any acknowledgement….” (Foster-Jones & et al, 2008), as I personally would discount number one completely and utterly as that is plagiarism.


Footnote: (click for definition)
2. Copying a paragraph, but making small changes, such as replacing a few verbs or adjectives with words that mean the same thing.
3. Cutting and pasting a paragraph by using a few sentences of the original but leaving one or two out, or by putting one or two sentences in a different order.
4. Putting a paragraph together by cutting and pasting a few choice phrases from a number of different sources and adding in some words of your own.¹


REFERENCE: (click for definition)
1. Foster-Jones, J., & Hirst T., (2008), Section 7 Organising and sharing your information, ‘7.5.1 Activity Defining plagiarism’, TU120: Beyond Google: Working with Information Online, The Open University.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: (click for definition)
How to Write Dissertations & Project Reports by Kathleen McMillian and Jonathan Weyers, published by Pearson Education Ltd, copyright 2007.

Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide: A handbook


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