Writing Well

Stop, Thief!

As you learned in “Paper Chase,” you write a research paper to argue a thesis. To do so, you cite other writers' words and ideas, giving full credit. As you write, you honor your moral responsibility to use someone else's ideas ethically and make it easy for readers to check your claims. What should you document? Give a source for everything that's not common knowledge, the information an educated person is expected to know. If you fail to give adequate credit, you can be charged with plagiarism.

Plagiarism means using some else's words without giving adequate credit. Plagiarism is …

Write Angles

Use square brackets, [ ], to add necessary information to a quotation.

Word Watch

Plagiarism is representing someone else's words or ideas as your own.

Fortunately, avoiding plagiarism is a piece of cake: you just document your sources correctly. Be especially careful when you create paraphrases. It's not enough to change a few words, rearrange a few sentences, and call it kosher. Here's how to correct the problem with parenthetical documentation:

Original source:

Plagiarism:

Not plagiarism:

As you've already learned in this section, to create a footnote or endnotes, just add the subscript number at the end of the sentence or passage in place of the parenthetical citation.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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