Two Ways to Use Others’ Ideas and Avoid Plagiarism

Having discussed the perceived value of citation, it is important to understand the process of citation. Generally, there are two ways to use the ideas of others: quoting and paraphrasing. You have likely heard the word “quote” before, but in academic writing it has a very specific and literal meaning: to quote someone is to use their exact words, and when cited includes quotation marks, “ ” , around the words taken from the other source. Block quotations refer to when several lines of text are quoted–these do not have quotation marks around the entire quotation, but are set apart from the rest of the text, such as here when reviewing the first paragraph of the last section:

There are different approaches to defining what plagiarism is and is not. One text described plagiarism as “a deliberate activity–as the conscious copying from the work of others” (Feak & Swales, 2009 p. 79). Others clarify that when talking about plagiarism, the copying is specifically presenting someone else’s work as your own, and likewise emphasized that there are cultural differences in what is perceived as plagiarism (Dollahite & Haun, 2012, p. 80). Macbeth and Chmarkh (2019) provide examples of ways to avoid plagiarism, and in turn examples of what would not be considered plagiarism (see discussion, pp. 54-55), emphasizing that “to avoid plagiarism, it is often necessary to use more than one technique [of paraphrasing] at the same time” (p. 54).

The first sentence, citing Feak and Swales (2009), is a quotation. Note that the quotation marks only go around the words from the other source, and not the names of the authors, or even necessarily the punctuation at the end of the sentence, such as if the citation is after the quotation marks. Note that when quoting, it is essential to exactly copy each word from the original source for accuracy, although you may alter a quotation using brackets, [ ] , to indicate that you changed some of the original language to make it easier for the current readers to understand. This is especially common when the original source uses a pronoun without a clear referent among the words quoted. It is better to alter the quotation with brackets than to quote more words when possible, because quoting should be done as little as possible in academic writing, mostly only if the exact words of another author are important to your claim and cannot be rephrased. Quoting, therefore, is using both the ideas and the exact words of another source.

Paraphrasing, meanwhile, refers to using the ideas of another source but with your own words, such as by using different words, reordering the words, etc., so that the sentence says a similar thing without any of the original language. The chief advantage of paraphrasing is that it allows you as a writer to summarize the important parts of a relevant source while still keeping your own writing focused and concise. The second citation in this section, of Dollahite and Haun (2012), is a paraphrase.

Looking at the third citation in this section, of Macbeth and Chmarkh (2019), you can see that there are different ways to cite sources, and that you can quote and paraphrase a source at the same time. Usually, if the names of the authors are part of the sentence, not simply a parenthetical citation (a citation in parentheses), it is to emphasize the names of the authors because it is assumed that the readers may or should know the authors of that source. In this case, Macbeth and Chmarkh (2019) is a publication from ESL instructors at OSU, and so OSU students may find it to be an especially valuable resource in their context. There are more examples of paraphrasing in Chapter 4.


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