P.Mean: How to avoid charges of plagiarism (created 2010-05-15).

I'm not an expert on this, but I got a question about how to avoid charges of plagiarism in a thesis, especially the sections of the thesis that reviewed existing research and theoretical background. Here's how I responded.

If you borrow material, word for word, from another source, you need to put that material in quotes and cite the original source. If you paraphrase material from another source, you do not need to put that material in quotes, but you do need to cite the original source.

The choice when to include direct quotes and when to paraphrase is a difficult one. I would tend towards paraphrasing as much as possible unless the exact words convey a meaning that is not apparent in any paraphrase. An exact quote is also needed when you need to provide a historical context. Here's guidance at another website:

* Use quotations when another writer's language is particularly memorable and will add interest and liveliness to your paper.
* Use quotations when another writer's language is so clear and economical that to make the same point in your own words would, by comparison, be ineffective.
* Use quotations when you want the solid reputation of a source to lend authority and credibility to your own writing.
 -- https://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/135/TQIC.html 

Your thesis should probably include some direct quotes and some paraphrases, and if you carefully cite the sources, it should not be plagiarism.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2010-05-16. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Writing research papers.