In general, whenever you have an assignment in this course, it is permissible to discuss the material with other students. However, the write-up must be completed independently. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. If you copy from any source (including other students) you could receive 0 and face suspension from UBC; for further details, visit Student Conduct and Discipline.
What is Plagiarism?
Although it is usually inappropriate to quote directly, the author of the following material has given her permission to reprint the following discussion on plagiarism (McMillan 2001). Read the sections below carefully to avoid unintentional plagiarism.
Avoid plagiarism: take notes in your own words.
Plagiarism is the theft of someone else’s words, work, or ideas. It includes such acts as (1) turning in a friend’s paper and saying it is yours; (2) using another person’s data or ideas without acknowledgement; (3) copying another author’s exact words without quotation marks; (4) wording that is very similar to that of the original source but passing it off entirely as your own.
This last example of plagiarism is probably the most common one in student writing. Here is an example:
Original: A very virulent isolate of Alternaria mali, the incitant of apple blotch, was found to produce two major host- specific toxins (HSTs) and five minor ones in liquid culture. The minor toxins were less active than the major ones, but were still specifically toxic to the plants which are susceptible to the pathogen.
(Kohmoto, Kahn, and others 1976 p 141)
Plagiarized: Kohmoto, Kahn, and others (1976) found that a very virulent isolate of Alternaria mali, the incitant of apple blotch disease, produced two main host-specific toxins, as well as five minor ones in liquid culture. Although the minor toxins were less active than the major ones, they were still specifically toxic to the susceptible plants.
Although the writer has altered a few words here and there, the second passage is strikingly similar to the original. It is still plagiarism if you use an author’s key phrases or sentence structure in a way that implies they are your own, even if you cite the source. The only way to make this passage “legal” as it now stands is to enclose everything retained from the original wording in quotation marks [note: this is not an option for BIOL 140]. Better yet, you should determine which facts or ideas in a source are relevant for your purposes, and then put these in your own words and word order.
Plagiarism of this kind is usually unintentional, the result of poor note taking and an incomplete understanding of the ethics of research and writing. Typically the problem arises when you lean heavily on notes that consist of undigested passages copied or half-copied from the original source…
…Form the habit of taking notes mainly in your own words.
…To take notes effectively you need to understand how to paraphrase and summarize material. A paraphrase expresses certain facts or ideas in different wording – your own – but in about the same number of words as the original. A summary expresses the important facts and ideas in fewer words than the original; for example, the abstract of a research paper is a summary. Both paraphrasing and summarizing require that you understand material fully before writing about it. Although you will probably use both methods as you work through your sources, you’ll find that learning how to identify and summarize the points that are most relevant to your particular need is a highly valuable research skill. For example, the writer of the plagiarized passage above might have written the following in his or her notes, to be incorporated later in the final paper.
Kohmoto, Kahn, and others (1976) cultured the fungus Alternaria mali, which causes apple blotch, and isolated seven different toxins. Of these, two were particularly toxic to susceptible plants.
The following has been reprinted from the Nov. 9th issue of “The Big Bang” with permission from the author, Dr. Geoff Gabbott.
How can you avoid plagiarism?
Paraphrasing – the way to go
To paraphrase something is to restate it with different words, usually in a simpler and shorter form to clarify the original. The best way to paraphrase is to:
– Read the source
– Think about what you want to say about it
– Cover the source
– Write out what you want to say
– Then check that you haven’t accidentally used the same words or phrases
The following shows an original article and four versions, only one of which is not considered plagiarized.
Scientists at the Melbourne Institute of Technology (MIT) announced this week the discovery of a new substance that is 20 times more bouncy than any natural or synthetic rubber known. The substance, known as a bio-polymer, was extracted from the hind-limb tendons of the common striped kangaroo, (Macropus flubbus). Professor John Smith, leader of the research team, said that “the new substance is five times more elastic than rubber and compression tests indicate it’s at least 20 times bouncier”. The striped kangaroo is a common sight in Australia and is known for its great speed, often exceeding 85 kph with leaps as long as 12 metres. “The substance may be another reason why the animal can generate such tremendous leaps,” suggested Smith at a press conference of the Biological Organizational Group US. The sports shoe manufacturer, Nike, has expressed an interest in developing a new line of shoes using the bio-polymer in the soles.*
* Original article not plagiarized from any source at all – it’s utter fiction.(1)
Version 1 – the Delete Key Whiz:
Scientists announced the discovery of a substance that is 20 times more bouncy than rubber. The substance was extracted from the tendons of the kangaroo. Professor John Smith said that “the substance is five times more elastic than rubber and compression tests indicate it’s at least 20 times bouncier”. The kangaroo is known for its speed, often exceeding 85 kph. “The substance may be why the animal can generate such tremendous leaps,” suggested Smith at a press conference of the BOGUS. Nike is interested in developing shoes using the bio-polymer in the soles.
This is clear plagiarism. The writer has simply gone “delete happy” and virtually nothing has been added.
Version 2 – the Thesaurus fanatic:
Researchers at the Melbourne Institute of Technology reported recently the finding of a new chemical that is 20 times more springy than any natural or artificial rubber known. The chemical, known as a bio-polymer, was removed from the back-leg tendons of the common striped kangaroo. Professor John Smith, chief of the research group, announced that “the new chemical is five times more stretchy than rubber and squash experiments reveal it’s at least 20 times springier”. The striped kangaroo is common in Australia and is known for its high speed, frequently going faster than 52.8 mph with hops as great as 39.3 feet. “The chemical may be an alternate explanation for why the marsupial can make such huge hops,” suggested Smith at a news conference of the Biological Organizational Group US. The sports shoe company, Nike, has shown an interest in producing a type of shoes using the bio-polymer in the soles.
A common strategy to camouflage plagiarism is to change as many words from the original as possible. Some argue that this is “putting it in my own words”; but there is clearly nothing new in sentence structure, concept organization and overall format.
Version 3 – The Rearranger:
A new substance that is 20 times more bouncy than any natural or synthetic rubber known, was discovered by scientists at the Melbourne Institute of Technology, it was announced this week. Extracted from the hind limbs of Macropus flubbus (the common striped kangaroo), the substance is identified as a bio-polymer. “Compression tests indicate the new substance is at least 20 times bouncier than rubber and five times more elastic,” said the leader of the research team, Professor John Smith. Known for its great speed, often exceeding 85 kph with leaps as long as 12 metres, the striped kangaroo is a common sight in Australia. At a press conference of the Biological Organizational Group US, Smith suggested that “the substance may be another reason why the animal can generate such tremendous leaps.” Nike, the sports shoe manufacturer, has expressed an interest in using the bio-polymer in the soles of a new line of shoes.
Another strategy to deceive is to simply move words and ideas around, again in the hopes of passing it off as “in my own words”. This too, is a clear case of plagiarism.
Imagine bounding along the street like a kangaroo! Nike may soon be producing a new line of shoes with super bouncy soles. Scientists in Australia have discovered a new substance that they’ve extracted from the tendons of the common striped kangaroo. It’s a bio-polymer which is five times as elastic as rubber and 20 times as bouncy. The scientists think that this substance may be the reason why the kangaroo can travel so fast and leap so far.
This version is obviously not plagiarized. The writer has rewritten the article from another point of view allowing some information to be omitted while maintaining the essence of the original.
Of course, efforts to hide plagiarism usually include a combination of all the strategies used in the first three versions above. This may be better camouflage, but it remains plagiarism.