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How do I avoid Plagiarism: Plagiarism

Guide on what to check before you 'copy and paste'


This guide discusses plagiarism - a very serious topic, in a lighter, less somber way. 
This guide is created by Yuyun Wirawati.

News flash

Plagiarism goes social
The Chronicle of Higher Education (28 April 2011)

Lawyer ticked off for 'cut and paste' job
The Straits Times (21 Jan 2011)

Foreign students 'cheating on university applications'
Telegraph (2 Sep 2010)

Plagiarism lines blur for students in digital age
The New York Times (1 Aug 2010)

Unethical? Tuition agency says 'It's just business'

The New Paper (18 Feb 2010)

What is plagiarism?

It is:

"misrepresenting someone else's work as your own" (Lipson, 2008),

"presenting arguments of others without acknowledging the source" (Neville, 2008),

and an "offence to make plagiarist look better than he/she is" (Posner, 2007). 

It is also considered as an act that is lack of academic integrity since SMU Code of Academic Integrity defines plagiarism as using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgment.

Case study

Harvard Crimson reported this plagiarism controversy in 2006. Now, read and compare these two paragraphs:

“Bridget is my age and lives across the street. For the first twelve years of my life, these qualifications were all I needed in a best friend. But that was before Bridget’s braces came off and her boyfriend Burke got on, before Hope and I met in our seventh-grade honors classes."

“Priscilla was my age and lived two blocks away. For the first fifteen years of my life, those were the only qualifications I needed in a best friend. We had first bonded over our mutual fascination with the abacus in a playgroup for gifted kids. But that was before freshman year, when Priscilla’s glasses came off, and the first in a long string of boyfriends got on.”

The first paragraph is from Sloppy First: A Jessica Darling Novel by Megan McCafferty, published in 2001. The second is from How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan, published (and recalled) in 2006. What do you think about those two paragraphs? Are they similar enough to be considered as plagiarism?

Harvard Crimson listed a dozen more similarities between Viswanathan's book and McCafferty's two novels.

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