He Who Must Not Be Named
November 13, 2014
by: Chelsea Zimmerman
You don’t have to be the chosen one to prevent plagiarism. Think of this guide as a Marauder’s Map, and you’ll be a wizard of words in no time. All you need to kill the beast is the knowledge to find it, so let’s begin!
Were you minding your own business and didn’t mean to plagiarize? Well, plagiarism doesn’t care that you meant to give the author credit and just forgot; or that you didn’t have time to cite your sources; or that Fluffy, your three-headed dog, ate your citations. You get the point Just cite your sources, and you’ll weaken the beast!
“But I have a Works Cited page,” you said. “But the author’s last name was 27 letters long,” you said. “But the citation makes my sentence look funny,” you said. I never said it would be pretty, but in order to defeat you-know-who, you’ve got to provide in-text citations that refer to your bibliography.
To prevent accidental plagiarism, highlight each source on your Works Cited page with a certain color, and highlight the information from each source with its color throughout the paper. Another tactic is to number your sources and write the corresponding number beside each bit of information you take from a source. (Just remember to remove these markings and add proper in-text citations before turning your assignment in!)
Whether you’re usinginformation found in the Half Blood Prince’s potions textbook or the Mermaids’ song from the Golden Egg, both the text and lyrics of the song must be cited. Stop by the University Writing Center for more information on how to cite non-print sources.
Copy and Paste is the Unforgivable Curse of writing. You can use them, but you should really only use them if you have good reason. If you copy and paste information from a source into your paper, then this material must be surrounded by quotation marks, or made into a block quote, and cited. For more help with this, visit the UWC.
If Copy and Paste is the Unforgivable Curse of writing, then paraphrasing is the hippogriff: it’s helpful and smart, but if disrespected, it will hurt you. Copying and pasting a sentence from a source into your paper and changing two words is not paraphrasing. The best way to paraphrase correctly is to read the chapter or article completely, put the source away, and then write the material into your paper in your own words.
The final horcrux of Plagiarism – and the most difficult to kill – is the notion of “common knowledge.” There is really no clear definition of common knowledge. The Purdue Online Writing Lab suggests that information is “common knowledge” if it is provided in five additional academic sources without a citation. To me, the rule is simple: when in doubt, cite.
Images from: mythology.wikia.com, The Purdue OWL Family of Sites, bythebutterfly.com, md-regulatory.blogspot.com, deviantart.com, fanpop.com, and harrypotter.wikia.com