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Module 6: Sharing

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6.5 Is it Plagiarism?

Plagiarism ranges from copying word-for-word to paraphrasing a passage without credit and changing only a few words. Below is a sentence from a book. The original source is followed by its use in three student papers. For each student's version check the pull-down box to see if the passage would be considered plagiarism.

Original Passage
Still, the telephone was only a convenience, permitting Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

Student Example Written Content
Abbie The telephone was a convenience, enabling Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

Comments on Abbie's passage (click me):

This is plagiarism in its worst form. Abbie does not indicate that the words and ideas belong to Boorstin, leaving her readers to believe the words are hers. She has stolen the words and ideas and attempted to cover the theft by changing or omitting an occasional word.
Brian Daniel J. Boorstin argues that the telephone was only a convenience, permitting Americans to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before.

Comments on Brian's passage (click me):

Even though Brian acknowledges his source, this is plagiarism. He has copied the original almost word for word, yet he has not supplied quotation marks to indicate the extent of his borrowing.
Chad Daniel J. Boorstin has noted that most Americans considered the telephone as simply "a convenience," an instrument that allowed them "to do more casually and with less effort what they had already been doing before."2

Sample Foot Note:
1 (Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience, page 390.
2 Excerpt, examples, and commentary below are from James M. McCrimmon, Writing With A Purpose, page 499.)

Comments on Chad's passage (click me):

Chad has done a good job. He has identified his source at the beginning of the paragraph, letting readers know who is being quoted and has provided a footnote directing them to the exact source of the statement. He has paraphrased some of Boorstin's words and quoted others, but makes it clear to the reader which words are his and which belong to Boorstin.
Module 6
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