Examples of Plagiarism

The following description offers very useful information on appropriate and inappropriate paraphrases and, hence, provides good examples of plagiarism and how to avoid it:

Plagiarism: What it is and How to Recognize and Avoid It

What is Plagiarism and Why is it Important?

In college courses, we are continually engaged with other people’s ideas: we read them in texts, hear them in lecture, discuss them in class, and incorporate them into our own writing. As a result, it is very important that we give credit where it is due. Plagiarism is using others’ ideas and words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information.

How Can Students Avoid Plagiarism?

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use:

  1. another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
  2. any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings–any pieces of information–that are not common knowledge;
  3. quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written words; or paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written words.
  • How to Recognize Unacceptable and Acceptable Paraphrases

Here’s the ORIGINAL text, from page 1 of Lizzie Borden: A Case Book of
Family and Crime in the 1890s by Joyce Williams et al.:

The rise of industry, the growth of cities, and the expansion of the population were the three great developments of late nineteenth century American history. As new, larger, steam-powered factories became a feature of the American landscape in the East, they transformed farm hands into industrial laborers, and provided jobs for a rising tide of immigrants. With industry came urbanization the growth of large cities (like Fall River, Massachusetts, where the Bordens lived) which became the centers of production as well as of commerce and trade.

Here is an UNACCEPTABLE paraphrase that is plagiarism:

The increase of industry, the growth of cities, and the explosion of the population were three large factors of nineteenth century America. As steam-driven companies became more visible in the eastern part of the country, they changed farm hands into factory workers and provided jobs for the large wave of immigrants. With industry came the growth of large cities like Fall River where the Bordens lived which turned into centers of commerce and trade as well as production.

What Makes this Passage Plagiarism?

The preceding passage is considered plagiarism for two reasons:

  1. the writer has only changed around a few words and phrases, or changed the order of the original’s sentences;
  2. the writer has failed to cite a source for any of the ideas or facts.

If you do either or both of these things, you are plagiarizing.

NOTE: This paragraph is also problematic because it changes the sense of several sentences (for example, “steam-driven companies” in sentence two misses the original’s emphasis on factories).

Here is an ACCEPTABLE paraphrase:

Fall River, where the Borden family lived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century. Steam-powered production had shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing, and as immigrants arrived in the US, they found work in these new factories. As a result, populations grew, and large urban areas arose. Fall River was one of these manufacturing and commercial centers (Williams 1).

Why is this passage acceptable?

This is acceptable paraphrasing because the writer:

  1. accurately relays the information in the original;
  2. uses her own words;
  3. lets her reader know the source of her information.

Here is an example of quotation and paraphrase used together, which is also
ACCEPTABLE:

Fall River, where the Borden family lived, was typical of northeastern industrial cities of the nineteenth century. As steam-powered production shifted labor from agriculture to manufacturing, the demand for workers “transformed farm hands into factory workers,” and created jobs for immigrants. In turn, growing populations increased the size of urban areas. Fall River was one of these manufacturing hubs that were also “centers of commerce and trade” (Williams 1)

Why is this passage acceptable?

This is acceptable paraphrasing because the writer:

  1. records the information in the original passage accurately.
  2. gives credit for the ideas in this passage.
  3. indicated which part is taken directly from her source by putting the passage in quotation marks and citing the page number.

Note that if the writer had used these phrases or sentences in her own paper without putting quotation marks around them, she would be plagiarizing. Using another person’s phrases or sentences without putting quotation marks around them is considered plagiarism even if the writer cites in her own text the source of the phrases or sentences she has quoted.