When you use sources, you need to give credit to the author(s) of all substantial facts or ideas not your own. If you do not, you risk plagiarism, and that is a serious offense.
What is plagiarism?A simple definition of plagiarism is "writing facts, quotations, or opinions that you got from someone else or from books, articles, movies, television, or tapes without identifying your source" (Silverman et al. 70). A more detailed definition can be found in the course policy sheet. The thing to remember, however, is that it will not be tolerated.
How to avoid plagiarismRules of Thumb offers these suggestions on how to avoid plagiarism:
- When in doubt, always give credit for a fact, quotation, or opinion from a book or other source. This is true even when you use your own wording.
- When you use a writer's wording even a phrase always put quotation marks around the writer's exact words.
- Write with your books closed. Do not write with a book or magazine open next to you. Don't go back and forth taking ideas from a source and writing your paper.
- Don't let your sources take over the essay. Tell what you know well in your own style, stressing what you find most important. (Silverman et al. 70)
That last item from Rules of Thumb is worth special emphasis. You should use your sources; don't let your sources use you. One fault I frequently see in research essays are a seemingly endless series of quotations strung together with very little of the writer's own ideas present. Be selective in your use of sources.