The Problem of Plagiarism

The DeVry Institute's "Using CyberSources" web page (unfortunately, no longer accessible by the general public) defines plagiarism as "the use of another person's words or ideas as if they were your own" and gives such examples as "the incorporating of quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material without documenting the source, the use of any graphs or tables (even if you created the graph from information you have not credited), or the use of an argument that was presented by another." It is important to realize that this definition doesn't say anything about the intention behind the omission -- using material without acknowledgement is considered to be plagiarism, whether this was the result of an intentional attempt to take credit for others' work, a lack of time in which to document sources before a paper was due, or simply not knowing that sources must be acknowledged to avoid plagiarism.

It is vitally important to give credit where credit is due. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, which denies others credit for their original ideas and work while attempting to take the credit for yourself. When plagiarism is attempted or committed, a number of problems arise:

Mitch Sanders' Plagiarism and Academic Honesty page (which has been removed from the Web) is correct in calling plagiarism "the intellectual equivalent of stealing." It is with good reason that most universities have explicit policies opposing plagiarism, and UNT is no exception:

Excerpts from UNT's Undergraduate Student Handbook:

2.Academic dishonesty - plagiarism

"The term 'plagiarism' includes, but is not limited to:

a. the knowing or negligent use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment, and/or

b. the knowing or negligent unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or by an agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials."

Penalties In My Courses

Because of the serious nature of plagiarism -- whether intentional or not -- I reserve the right to deduct five letter grades from any academic paper in my courses that fails to cite its sources. A little bit of math will reveal that this means a maximum grade of 50 percent (an F) on the paper, after deducting five letter grades -- fifty percent -- from a perfect score of 100 percent. The actual deduction may be lower for papers that include a bibliography but no footnotes or in-text citations, or for papers that cite a few (but not all) of their sources, but this is a very serious problem and will be dealt with appropriately.

General Citation Guidelines

Bearing in mind the problems that can be posed by plagiarism and the potentially serious consequences, here are a few general guidelines to help students cite their sources correctly:

Additional Resources

Parenthetical Citations and Footnotes

By looking at your citation, a reader should be able to determine which source from your bibliography was used for a particular point, and where to look in that source (i.e., which exact page) if further research is needed.

Feel free to use any format that gets all of the information across. I personally prefer simply using the author's last name, a comma the year of publication, a colon, and the page number (as long as this uniquely identifies the source that is used -- other information may be needed if your bibliography includes several works by the same author that were published in the same year). Any of the following styles can be used, though, as long as they indicate which source was used and which page is being referenced. Similarly, I personally prefer using in-text (parenthetical) citations, but footnotes or endnotes may also be used.

In-text (Parenthetical) Citations:

It is generally considered preferable in many circumstances to give the author's name in the sentence itself, in which case the citation only needs to include the year of publication (to identify the source being used) and the page number in question:

Where this can not be done easily, or where it does not make as much sense, citations should be given at the end of a phrase or sentence and should include the author's name:

More details, including discussions of citation/footnote/endnote formats in APA, MLA, and Turabian/Chicago style, can be found in the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this page.

Footnotes or Endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes are not used as often in the social sciences as in-text citations, although certain other disciplines (and certain social science journals) prefer the use of footnotes or endnotes. In undergraduate papers, the choice between in-text cites, footnotes, and endnotes is generally up to the writer (unless the professor requests a particular format).

Note that the full bibliographic reference is not needed for footnotes or endnotes; the purpose of these notes is to indicate which source from the more detailed bibliography was consulted and which specific page was used. In general, the format of footnotes or endnotes should follow the format for in-text citations, as discussed above:

Bibliographies

While citations, footnotes, or endnotes are kept brief and generally give the minimum amount of information required to identify the source of information. The references list at the end of a paper, though, must give complete bibliographic citations, so that the reader can identify exactly which edition of which book (or which journal/magazine/newspaper issue) was consulted.

Examples of Bibliographic Citations

The following table gives some examples of bibliographic citation formats for sources that are likely to appear in undergraduate research papers. I personally do not require either APA or MLA style in papers for my courses; any style that provides all of this information is acceptable to me (of course, not all professors have this same attitude). The APA and MLA references listed above give more detail on these and other types of sources, so you should consult those references if you need to cite a source that is not listed here. (Note that I am presenting both APA style and a similar style that reflects what many political scientists use; for MLA style, which is rarely used in the social sciences, consult the references listed elsewhere on this page)

Type of Source Typical Poli Sci Format APA Format
Single-Author Book Huth, Paul K. (1996). Standing Your Ground. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Huth, P.K. (1996). Standing Your Ground. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Single-Author Book (specific edition) Ziegler, David W. (1997). War, Peace, and International Politics,7th edition (or seventh edition). New York: Longman. Ziegler, D.W. (1997). War, Peace, and International Politics (7th ed.). New York: Longman.
Multi-Author Book Mansbach, Richard W., and John A. Vasquez (1981). In Search of Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. Mansbach, R.W., and Vasquez, J.A. (1981). In Search of Theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Book Chapter Hensel, Paul R. (1999). "Charting a Course to Conflict: Territorial Issues and Interstate Conflict, 1816-1992." In Paul F. Diehl, ed., A Road Map to War. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, pp. 115-146. Hensel, P.R. (1999). "Charting a Course to Conflict: Territorial Issues and Interstate Conflict, 1816-1992." In P.F. Diehl (ed.), A Road Map to War (pp.115-146). Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
Journal Article Lemke, Douglas (1997). "The Continuation of History: Power Transition Theory and the End of the Cold War." Journal of Peace Research 34, 1: 23-36. Lemke, D. (1997). "The Continuation of History: Power Transition Theory and the End of the Cold War." Journal of Peace Research 34 (1), 23-36.
Newspaper Article (with a known author) Orme, William A. (1999). "Palestinians and Israelis Begin Final Round of Talks." New York Times Sept 14, p. A1. Orme, W.A. (1999, September 14). "Palestinians and Israelis Begin Final Round of Talks." New York Times, p. A1.
Newspaper Article (unknown author) New York Times (1999). "Palestinians and Israelis Begin Final Round of Talks." Sept 14, p. A1. "Palestinians and Israelis Begin Final Round of Talks." (1999, September 14). New York Times, p. A1.
Web Page Hensel, Paul R. (26 Oct. 1999 -- or Oct. 26, 1999 or 10/26/1999). "Paul Hensel's Citations and Plagiarism Page." http://www.paulhensel.org/teachcite.html (1 Dec. 1999 -- or Dec. 1, 1999 or 12/1/1999).
(Note that the first date is the date of the page's creation, assuming that this is listed somewhere on the page; the second date is the date you visited the page)
Hensel, P.R. (26 Oct. 1999). Paul Hensel's Citations and Plagiarism Page. [online] Available: http://www.paulhensel.org/teachcite.html (1 Dec. 1999).
(Note that the first date is the date of the page's creation, assuming that this is listed somewhere on the page; the second date is the date you visited the page)

Citing Electronic Sources

The spread of the Internet and of widely available CD-ROM reference materials has raised new questions about the use and citation of electronic sources. Students considering using such sources in a college-level research paper need to visit my web page on Using and Evaluating Internet Resources, but if the source if appropriate for the paper in question, these resources will help you cite it correctly.

Additional Resources

General Resources

American Psychological Association (APA) Style

Modern Language Association (MLA) Style:

Turabian Style / Chicago Manual of Style


http://www.paulhensel.org/teachcite.html
Last updated: 3 July 2008
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