Assess your paper, part 5
Is your paper free of plagiarism?
While taking intellectual risks is admirable,
a risk to avoid is plagiarism or academic dishonesty. Remember
that "I didn't know" is no excuse. Avoid plagiarism
by taking careful notes and being
certain you understand what it is. Plagiarism is often--and rightly--explained
as being a form of theft. The Harvard University Writing program's
article "Why Does it Matter if you Plagiarize?"
takes this issue further.
Be sure also to
read Barnet's discussion of the use of quotations and avoiding
pages 232 - 334 of the 11th edition of A Short Guide to Writing About Art
1) Submitting all or part of a paper written by someone
2) Copying sentences and or phrases from a source without
putting them in quotation marks, and without using a footnote to
identify the source.
The rule of thumb is: More than three consecutive words,
not counting short words such as "a," "the,"
"but," "in," "an," or "and"
need either quotation
marks and a footnote
or acknowledgement of the author in the text of your paper.
Generally speaking, you may use three--possibly four--consecutive words
(excluding such words as "the," "and," "if,"
and "in") without quotation marks or footnote. For example, "Italian Renaissance Art"
and "Italian Renissance painting and sculpture" are
common phrases and it's hard to find a graceful alternatives.
If, however, you find an unusually good
or clever phrase that you'd like to re-use in your paper, then you must acknowledge the author, usually with
a footnote. See When and How
to use a Quotation and Barnet's
discussion of the use of quotations and avoiding plagiarism
on pages 232 - 334 of the 11th edition of A Short Guide to Writing About Art
BEWARE OF THE TOO-CLOSE PARAPHRASE! Some students get into trouble by quoting three or
four words without quotation marks, putting in a bridge of a
few of their own words, and then a another short quoted phrase
without quotation marks, another bridge of their own words, etc.
This is a form of plagiarism because it is editing a paragraph
by someone else, retaining the structure and much of the text--yet
presenting it as their own work.
3) False documentation: intentionally citing in a footnote
or bibliography a source that you did not in fact consult--or is not the source of a quotation--is
a form of plagiarism or academic dishonesty. This includes
using an image of a work of art (a secondary source) while claiming
to have examined the art work in person (a primary source).
On the surface, false documentation
might seem like a clever game: produce the required footnotes
without the necessary work--and sit back and laugh. But false
documentation is a far worse offense than a too close paraphrase
because the writer clearly intends to deceive.
A common form of false documentation is to plagiarize from one
source and footnote to another that sounds more scholarly.
For those who try very
hard to do good and honest work: We all make mistakes, and an accidental omission of
a footnote or an error in a citation is exactly that: an error.
Concerns about academic dishonesty arise when there's a pattern
that goes beyond the likelihood of error.
Because it's good to smile--especially
about serious things--don't miss Tom Lehrer's famous satiric
song about plagiarism, Lobachevsky. ".
. . Plagiarize / Let no one else's work evade your eyes / Remember
why the good Lord made your eyes / So don't shade your eyes /
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize / Only be sure always
to call it please 'research' . . . " Full lyrics may be
© Jan Mainzer