What Should I Know to Avoid Plagiarism in a U.S. Context?
- U.S. education puts a high value on "critical analysis": we
interrogate sources, make connections among them, and assert a stance.
It is thus essential that the reader can trace the original source to
see whether our “analysis” is warranted or our interpretation accurate.
- Although another author’s language may be quite eloquent,
be careful not to use a large number of quotes from the same sources
even if it seems that “the author says it better than I could.” It is
common to paraphrase or summarize another author’s ideas (with a proper
citation) in academic writing unless the wording itself matters to your
argument or analysis, or the quote encapsulates much of the author’s
thinking. The key here is not to avoid quoting (a completely acceptable
and encouraged practice) but to choose your quotes carefully.
- Keep a writing log as you do research in which you can
summarize arguments, keep track of your own ideas, make connections
among other sources, and ask questions. Such logs help you focus on how
your own ideas differ from or extend your source material.
- Be sure to follow proper documentation format
for all sources you use and keep a citation log to track the
publication information on a source, which includes a citation, clear
notes about what you have quoted, paraphrased, and summarized and where
such information specifically appears in the source.
- Review a writing handbook’s information on how to quote,
paraphrase, and summarize. If you are ever unsure, check with your
professor, TA, or visit the University Writing Center in the Learning