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Dalton State College
Department of Social Sciences
650 College Drive
Dalton GA  30720

Updated: January 25, 2012
Maintained By:
Sarah Mergel


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Avoiding Plagiarism and Citing Sources

On this page you will find information on: (1) the meaning of plagiarism and the college's policies on plagiarism and other forms of academic irregularity; (2) tips for avoiding plagiarism; (3) when to cite sources; and (4) how to cite sources and format a bibliography.

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as "1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work; 2. the act of the act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one's own."[1]

There are three kinds of plagiarism: intentional, unintentional, and self. ALL types are unethical and unacceptable in an academic community and carry serious ramifications.

Intentional Plagiarism occurs when the writer purposely tries to pass off another's work as his or her own. This could take the shape of buying a paper from someone, downloading a paper off the Internet, using sections of a published article, book or newspaper without giving source information, and hiring someone to write your paper.

Unintentional Plagiarism occurs when the writer mistakenly attributes sources or does so improperly. For example: paraphrasing a source too closely, crediting a quote from one source to another, leaving a source off of a bibliography. Unintentional plagiarism usually occurs when authors are careless in their note taking or rushed in their writing. They have not properly notated where they found their information while researching or they forget to include citations for direct quotes or paraphrases.

Self Plagiarism occurs when a writer submits the same paper for more than one assignment.

Plagiarism and other forms of academic irregularity are serious offenses and are prohibited by the Dalton State College Student Code of Conduct (see below). Students who violate the code of conduct maybe reported to the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services and maybe brought before the College's Discipline Committee.

Statement on Academic Irregularity

1. No student shall receive or give assistance not authorized by the instructor in the preparation of an essay, laboratory report, examination or other assignment included in an academic course.

2. No student shall take or attempt to take, steal or otherwise procure in an unauthorized manner any material pertaining to the conduct of a class, including but not limited to tests, examinations, laboratory equipment, and roll books.

3. No student shall sell, give, lend, or otherwise furnish to any unauthorized person material which can be shown to contain the questions or answers to any examinations scheduled to be given at any subsequent date in any course of study offered by the College, without authorization from the instructor.

4. Plagiarism is prohibited. Themes, essays, term papers, tests, and other similar requirements must be the original work of the student and should not have been previously submitted elsewhere. When direct quotations are used, they must be indicated, and where the ideas of another are incorporated in the paper, they must be appropriately acknowledged.[2]

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Helping Hints for Avoiding Plagiarism

It is fairly easy to avoid intentional plagiarism and self plagiarism. If you always do your own work, then you cannot be accused of intentional plagiarism. Anytime you plan to use the same research for more than one class in the same semester, be sure that you consult with both professors before submitting any portion of the assignment. If you ever want to use previous research (not the paper/project itself) for another class, be sure you ask your professor for permission. Without your professor's permission you are self-plagiarizing and thus committing academic dishonesty.

Avoiding unintentional plagiarism is a little bit trickier. When taking notes, be sure to record somewhere which ideas belong to you, which ideas have been paraphrased from from a source, and which ideas have been directly quoted. Moreover, always note whether it is a quote or a paraphrase what source and page the material came from. The more diligent you are when you take notes, the easier it will be to draft your paper and avoid plagiarism.

As you write, be sure to enclose quotation marks all material taken word for word from another source and insert a footnote or endnote. Moreover, be sure to insert a footnote or endnote after every paraphrased section.

Finally, when creating your bibliography check to see that you have included every book, article, or other source even if you did not quote directly from the work. Moreover, make sure that every entry has all the required information, usually title, author, publisher, city of publication, copyright date, and page number for chapters or articles.

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When to Cite Your Sources

According to the Turabian Manual you should cite sources "1. To give credit. 2. To assure readers of the accuracy of your facts. 3. To show readers the research tradition that informs your work. 4. To help readers follow or extend your research." Thus, you need citations anytime you use direct quotations from a sources, anytime you paraphrase a source, and anytime you use data or research methods found in another source.[3]

Here are some examples of when you need citations and when you do not need notes in your work followed by an explanation as to why you do or do not need a citation.

Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492 on his voyage to what would be labeled by Europeans as the New World. There is really no need to provide a citation here. An educated individual reading your work would understand the context of this statement.

After his second voyage to the New World, Columbus wrote a letter to a leading supporter in Spain. He noted among other things the wonderful harbors and rivers on the islands he discovered.[4] You would need to include a citation for this sentence because you reference a specific letter Columbus wrote and you summarize the content of that letter.

Christopher Columbus recorded that the people living on the islands he explored had "no iron or steel, nor any weapons; nor are they fit thereunto."[5] You obviously need a citation here because you used a direct quote from Columbus' record of events.

In the end, remember to cite information that is not likely to be common knowledge for the reader. If there is any doubt in your mind, then include a citation to be on the safe side.

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How to Cite Your Sources

Historians often use what is called the Turabian Style for citing their sources and formatting their bibliography. The Turabian Style is based on the Chicago Manual of Style and is designed for people conducting scholarly research not intended for publication. When historians publish they use the Chicago Style.

Historians often use footnotes or endnotes to cite their sources. Only in very rare instances historians use parenthetical notations. The note system is useful because it allows you (the writer) an opportunity to include detailed information about the source as well as side notes and explanations of their sources. Your history professor should tell you whether they want footnotes or endnotes, but all will expect you to use the Turabian Style. Regardless of whether you need to do footnotes or endnotes, your notes will have the same format.

Citations should include the following information.

Print Sources: Author, title/subtitle of the book/article (journal) and who published the text, when it was published, where it was published, and the page number(s) to which you are referring.

Web Sources: Author, title of page, title or owner of the site, URL, and access date.

Online Databases: Author, title of article, title and issue of journal, publication date, name of online database, URL, and access date.

Once you know what to include, you need to learn to format the citations properly. Click here for information on how to format notes and bibliography entries for common types of sources including books, articles, websites, and primary sources. The main difference between note entries and bibliography entries is the order of the author's name (first last/last first) and the punctuation used in the entry.

The beauty of modern word processing is that entering notes is quite simple. Click here for information on how to insert footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word 2007. If you are using another word processing program, usually you can insert notes from the Insert Menu. If that does not work, consult the program's help menu.

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[1] plagiarism. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarism (accessed: November 09, 2009)

[2] "Academic Irregularity," The Constitution of the Student Body of Dalton State College as printed in the Dalton State Catalog 2009-2010, 91-92.

[3] Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Seventh Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 133-134.

[4] Christopher Columbus, "Letter to Luis de Sant' Angel (1493)," Voices of the American People (New York: Pearson, 2006), 19-22.

[5] ibid., 20.