Preventing Plagiarism - From Unpublishable to Publishable - Professional Roles and Publishable Writing

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Preventing Plagiarism
From Unpublishable to Publishable
Professional Roles and Publishable Writing

Where writing for publication is concerned three main considerations are plagiarism, copyright, and responsible conduct of research. One of the most egregious ethical issues in writing for publication is plagiarism, defined as theft of ideas; the word originates from a Latin verb that means “to kidnap.” The United States Office of Research Integrity (ORI) “considers plagiarism to include be the theft and misappropriation of intellectual property and the substantial unattributed textual copying of another’s work” (Roig, 2013).

While it is true that scholars, as Sir Isaac Newton noted, “stand on the shoulders of giants” and rely on the work of others, giving appropriate credit to sources is essential. Even graduate students can be unaware of what constitutes plagiarism in the United States or come from a culture with different ideas about intellectual property (Osman-Gani & Poell, 2011). Based on national, longitudinal survey of graduate students ( conducted by James McCabe, approximately 24 % of graduate students admitted to paraphrasing/copying a few sentences from an internet source (e.g., Wikipedia) or a print source without referencing it There is an expectation that any ideas that did not originate with you are accompanied by a reference to the source. This pertains, not only to direct quotations, but also to ideas that are paraphrased into your own words.

Online Tools

Learn more about plagiarism and academic integrity at Facts & Stats and the International Center for Academic Integrity

Activity 2.3: Attributing Sources Correctly

Read the following quotation and the excerpts from four student papers that follow. Which are plagiarized? Which are not? Why?


Being educated means being skillful with language—able to control language instead of being controlled by it, confident that you can speak or write effectively instead of feeling terrified. When successful people explain how they rose to the top, they often emphasize their skills as communicators … Writing, private or public, … is really about you, about the richness of your life lived in language, about the fullness of your participation in your community and in your culture, about the effectiveness of your efforts to achieve change. The person attuned to the infinite creativity of language leads a richer life. So can you. (Gardner & Barefoot, 2014, p. 175)

Student paper 1

Student paper 2

Student paper 3

Student paper 4

Skill with language, both spoken and written, is one characteristic of an educated person. Many people attribute their success to their skills as communicators

Educated people are skillful communicators. They use their knowledge of language, both spoken and written, to help them in their personal and professional lives (Gardner & Barefoot, 2014)

The term educated, as defined by Gardner and Barefoot (2014), means efficiency in using the communication skills of speaking and writing to foster growth and change in both the public and private sectors of life

One can either control language or be controlled by it. Educated people continually strive to improve their skills as communicators so that they can control language and become more successful at it

If you answered that plagiarism occurs in papers 1 and 4, you were correct. Paper 1 is an example of paraphrasing, of putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. It requires in-text citation, like this: (Gardner & Barefoot, 2014). Why? Because those ideas did not originate with you. Papers 2 and 3 are not plagiarized because both of them cite the source of the ideas in the paper. Paper 4 is even more blatant example of plagiarism because it is even closer to the original quotation than Paper 1. It too could be corrected by simply including the name and date for the source that was used.

Sources: Gardner & Barefoot, 2014; Jalongo, Twiest, & Gerlach, 1999.

Any time that you quote, you’ll need the exact page number. Take the time to put it in when the book is right in front of you rather than waiting until after it was returned to the library or the person who loaned it to you. Any time that the idea did not originate with you—even if you rewrote it into your own words—it still needs a citation. Remember also that you’ll need the inclusive page numbers for journal articles or for chapters in books; the latter can be particularly difficult to track down after the fact.

Scholars sometimes express concern about unintentional plagiarism. In other words, an idea pops into mind and may seem original when actually, it is something they read previously bubbling up to the surface. Careful and appropriate citation is the best solution. As you write, use a clear system of differentiating your thoughts from the ones you have read; for example, you might use the highlighting tool or type, in capital letters MY IDEA:. Notes should be as complete as possible; you need to stop and type in the source as you are working, not expect to return to it much later and keep everything sorted out. Another way to prevent unintentional plagiarism is to avoid procrastinating. Mistakes are more apt to occur if the author is racing to finish the work or taking notes on a large stack of sources all at one sitting.

Table 2.4

Guidelines for avoiding plagiarism

Use the scholars tools. Record information from your sources carefully and accurately throughout the process; do not wait until the final proofs to begin checking details. Stop what you are doing and type the information in while you have it in front of you. Otherwise, time can be wasted searching for a lost reference and errors will creep in

Devise a strategy to differentiate. Distinguish your ideas from those taken from outside sources, for example, use the highlighting tool on your ideas. Review any paraphrased or summarized material to make certain that it is either in your own words or that any words and phrases from the original are quoted

Master the basics of referencing style. Do not rely on your memory; learn the basics and look up the rest. You will be using a referencing style for a long, long time so the investment in it will pay off in the long run. Remember that you must supply the page number for any direct quotation

Provide a citation for paraphrased material. Everyone knows to document direct quotations; however, even master’s degree students sometimes do now know that paraphrased material, facts that are open to dispute or are not common knowledge, and other authors’ opinions or conclusions need to be cited, even though they are not direct quotations (Kirszner & Mandell, 2010). Any figures, tables, graphs, and charts taken from a source all require a citation and, if you plan to publish them, you’ll need permission and probably will have to pay to use them

When people deliberately copy (or purchase) someone else’s work and present it as their own, it frequently is an act of desperation. More often than not, they have waited until the last minute and resort to pirating (or purchasing) someone else’s work rather than submitting nothing at all. Most of the time, this breach of academic integrity will be exposed when professors, the, graduate school personnel who approve dissertations, and editors use search engines that will check for similarity between the manuscript submitted and other papers or published sources. One that is used by faculty members, Turnitin (2015), checks student papers against a huge data base of other student papers to identify “highly unoriginal content.” iThenticate (2016) is commonly used by graduate school personnel to check dissertations or publishers to check manuscripts submitted to journals. But, even before these tools were available, well-read faculty members and reviewers of manuscripts often detected the signs of plagiarism, such as a sudden and dramatic improvement in the writing style or the sense that the material was somehow familiar. In any case, the punishments for a documented case of plagiarism typically are severe, such as dismissal from the university for a student or denial of tenure for a faculty member.

Where copyright is concerned, it isn’t strictly the number of words. For example, if an entire scholarly publication hinges on a diagram that explains the theory, that diagram would be protected by copyright because it is the essence of the work. Thus, you must include written permission to use surveys, instruments, tables and figures. Many a textbook author has begun by flagging sections from other books that are already published, assuming that the authors will be eager to have their work recognized in this way. Actually, the author probably does not own the copyright—the publisher does—and payment probably will be required to use the material. Even book publishing contracts frequently contain a “noncompeting works” clause, requiring authors to agree that they will not publish another book on the same topic for a specified period of time. On the other hand, if you present a paper at a conference and it is “published” as an ERIC document, that does not prevent you from pursuing publication because authors do not transfer the copyright; conference proceedings often fall into the same category because they usually are not copyrighted and, if so, a statement noting that the paper was first presented at that conference would be sufficient. Intellectual property is a complicated topic. Practically any question you might have is addressed by the U. S. Copyright Office at