PLAGIARISM

PLAGIARISM - It's an ugly word, and ever since the development of the Internet, it has become a huge problem in education at all levels. It's very easy to do - and very easy to get caught doing. Moreover, Taft looks for it on major writing assignments and projects. It is important to think about this topic in Taft's American History class as well as every other class.

WHAT IS IT? - The general definition of plagiarism is usually 'taking someone else's ideas and using them as your own'. (The root of the word 'plagiarism' actually comes from Latin for kidnapping!)

WHY DO IT? - Some students (and it's not just limited to students) plagiarize because they have waited to the last minute for an assignment or project, or they don't understand and assignment, or they are just plain lazy. However, many cases of plagiarism are done unintentionally - and that's what we hope to stop in our class.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE? - Let's look at a sample passage from "Conducting the War", part of ABC-CLIO's survey of the American Revolution.

Advantages and Resources
The patriots' first task was to form a military force. Congress appointed George Washington as commander of the Continental Army even before declaring independence. In addition to these regulars, the patriot cause also drew upon colonial militia units in which citizens rotated their fighting in short periods and then returned to their farms and homes.

Thus, although Washington commanded forces that were ill equipped and relatively untrained, he did have access to a large pool of fresh soldiers. In addition, he eventually built the Continentals into a successful fighting force. He used his army's advantages—daring adventurousness, patriotic commitment, flexibility in battle strategy, guerrilla tactics, frontier marksmanship, and more—to resist the British, capitalize on their weaknesses, and ultimately seize the day.

"Conducting the War", American History. ABC-CLIO Schools Subscription Web Sites. [Online] Available at http://www.americanhistory.abc-clio.com/lessons/topics/topicdisplay.aspx?conceptid=73. Accessed August 10, 2004.

If you were assigned a report or project on the American Revolution, and you wanted to use this information, you would need to paraphrase it or put it in your own words - and cite the source. For example ...

The patriot cause, led by commander George Washington, consisted of regulars as well as colonial militiamen, who fought for small periods of time and then returned home. Even though the Washington's troops didn't have the proper training or supplies, there were many new soldiers coming into the ranks. Also, the army had many other advantages, including patriotism, different battle tactics, and old-fashioned sharp shooting, in order to defeat the British. ("Conducting the War", ABC-CLIO).

If you wanted to include a direct quote from the resource, you would need to use quotation marks in your writing. For example ...

The patriot cause, led by commander George Washington, consisted of regulars as well as colonial militiamen, who fought for small periods of time and then returned home. Even though the Washington's troops didn't have the proper training or supplies, there were many new soldiers coming into the ranks. Also, the army had many other advantages, including "daring adventurousness, patriotic commitment, flexibility in battle strategy, [and] guerrilla tactics", in order to defeat the British. ("Conducting the War", ABC-CLIO).

In either case, if you did not cite the resource, it's plagiarism.