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Thesis & Research Papers: Citation and Plagiarism

Help for Junior Students doing English III Thesis (including Honors III) : Research, Citation, Plagiarism, Writing, Forming Arguments, Etc.

Citation and Plagiarism

OSLIS Citation Maker

 If you need to use an online tool to help you with your Works Cited entries, this Citation Maker is the one we recommend.

Remember, though, the citation will only be as good as the information you put into it, and if you don't understand what it is supposed to look like, or how a citation works, you can still "get it wrong."

WHY do we Cite?

WHY do we cite sources?...

...in academic writing, and in life.

In order of importance:

  1. As a Service to your Reader or Audience
  2. To Properly Credit Creators
  3. To Give Yourself Authority and Credibility
  4. To Protect Yourself against Bad Things (Plagiarism, Use of Weak Sources)

For WHOM do we Cite?

Citation is an act for Others.

The ultimate goal of a citation is to clearly identify the exact source, in order to direct your reader to the exact place, from which you got the information.

This allows an interested reader to find more information, a skeptical reader to make their own conclusions based on the information, and a hostile reader to fact-check you.

WHEN do we Cite?

WHEN do you need a citation?

Ask yourself this question:

Does this sentence contain words, ideas, or information that I got from another source?

If the answer is "Yes", then you need to direct your reader to where that information came from.

 

WHAT do we Cite? HOW do we Cite it?

What Kinds of Sources Do We Cite?

Basically any kind of informational document can be cited, from a Tweet to a Television Show to a Website to a Conversation with a Friend.  Remember, any information that came from another source needs to be cited.

How Do We Cite All of Those Different Kinds of Information Sources?

At Central Catholic High School, we use the MLA (Modern Language Association) 8th edition citation format. The great thing about MLA 8th edition is that all types of sources follow the same general citation format.  

You can find more information about MLA 8th Edition Citation on this guide HERE.

WHERE do we Cite?

Proper Citation happens in Two Places:

1. In the body of your work

As either an "In-text" citation, where you incorporate the citation information directly into your writing.

ex.  "According to  David Levy, in Scrolling Forwardblah blah..."

or as a "Parenthetical" citation, where you place the citation information (including page number) inside parentheses at the end of the sentence in which you used the information.

ex. " ... and it remains important to realize that 'Authority is Constructed and Contextual' when evaluating content online" (Stebbins 155).

2. On the "Works Cited" Page

Your "Works Cited" page contains every information source that you cite in your paper: no more, no less.

In MLA Format, the works cited is :

  • Double Spaced.
  • Arranged alphabetically by the First Element of the citation.  This is usually the "Author" element, but may also be the "Title of Source".   This is to make it easy for your reader to find a source on your list.
  • Has a "Hanging Indent":  The first line sticks out, and the rest of the lines are indented 1/2 inch (.5").  This is to make it very easy for your reader to scan for that "sticky-outy" bit, because that is the part you must reference in your in-text or parenthetical citation.

ex.

Levy, David. Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in a Digital Age. Arcade, 2011.

Stebbins, Leslie. Finding Reliable Information Online: Adventures of an Information Sleuth. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

 

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism (from the Latin word plagiarus : "kidnapping") is an act of academic dishonesty: the  use of the words*, ideas, or information of another person without giving them proper credit and acknowledgment. It is an ethical violation.  

Notice the root word means "kidnapping". Plagiarism isn't just stealing a thing, it's the taking of someone's intellectual "child" -- something they created.

Why do we Plagiarize?

Plagiarism is not always intentional, but it is an academic violation regardless of intent.  We like to think of Plagiarism at three levels, all of which are plagiarism and all of which have consequences.

1st-Degree Plagiarism:  Because of Badness..

Intentional, Pre-Meditated, Malicious:  you actively choose to pass off the work of another person as your own in order to improve a grade, avoid doing work, or mislead your audience, etc.  This is cheating.

Examples:. Buying a paper online or taking a paper from another student in a previous year. Getting answers to a test from a friend. Re-using work from an assignment in a different class but passing it off as new or original work for another assignment.

2nd-Degree Plagiarism: Because of Laziness...

Intentional, Heat-of-the-Moment, Negligent:  you reactively choose to pass off the work of another person as your own due to lack of foresight, improper planning, or sloppy research practices.  This is also cheating.

Examples: Copying someone's homework because you forgot to do it.  Not adding a citation for a piece of information because you can't remember where it came from and don't want to re-find it.

3rd-Degree Plagiarism: Because of Ignorance...

Unintentional, Unnoticed, Negligent:  plagiarism that you did not intend, and may not be aware of, but is still evident in your work, and is still misrepresenting what ideas are actually yours.  This is academically dishonest.

ExamplesNot citing a source because you didn't know, or think, you needed to. Not properly citing a source. Misusing quotations or paraphrases in such a way that it is unclear what is your idea, and what came from another source.

How Do We Plagiarize?

Type I: No Citation

You use ideas, words, or information from a source and do not make note of it in your text and in your works cited. This includes both direct quotation AND paraphrases (putting ideas into your own words).

Type II: No Quotation Marks

You use the exact words of another person or source without making clear which words are not yours.

Type III: Bad Paraphrase

You attempt, poorly, to put someone else's ideas or words into your own words. Using different words ("thesaurus-izing") is not the same as  using your own words, even with citation.

Type IV: Ambiguous or Incomplete Citation

You attempt to cite a source, but it is unclear what material is from the source and what is your own writings.  You cite a source, but it does not correspond to an entry in your works cited. You cite a source that is made-up.

Type V: Improper or Over-use of a Source.

You rely too heavily on a particular source, or too much of the text of your work is from other texts. 

Type V.i: Self-Plagiarism.

"Double Dipping": directly re-using your own prior work/papers/etc with out citing it.  (Yes, you CAN plagiarize yourself). Example: Turning in the same work for different assignments, or for different teachers (with out first obtaining permission from both teachers).