Academic Honesty and Avoiding Plagiarism:

by Michael Fleming

Quiz: Acceptable use of the Internet?

Even though the computer as a writing tool and the Internet as a research tool seem to have fundamentally changed the nature of college composition courses, in fact all the old "rules" still apply: plagiarism is plagiarism. Whether you get your information from an online database or from a dusty old book in a dusty old college library, you still have to honor the words and ideas of other writers by using the right techniques for paraphrasing, quoting, and citing your sources.

See how well you understand the basics by considering the following examples:

  1. Suppose a student in a history course submitted the following passage in an essay about the Roman emperor Diocletian:
    Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (c. 245-c. 312), born Diocles and known in English as Diocletian, was Roman Emperor from November 20, 284 to May 1, 305. He established an autocratic government and was responsible for laying the groundwork for the second phase of the Roman Empire, which is known variously as the "Dominate" (as opposed to the Principate instituted by Augustus), the "Tetrarchy", or simply the "Later Roman Empire".
    If copied from a wiki, is this acceptable work on the student's part?
  2. Yes      No

  3. A student in an astronomy course found this description of a supernova on the Wikipedia Web site:
    A supernova (plural: supernovae or supernovas) is a stellar explosion that creates an extremely luminous object that is initially made of plasma—an ionized form of matter.
    She began an essay on supernovas like this:
    According to Wikipedia, a supernova occurs when a star explodes into an "extremely luminous object that is initially made of plasma—an ionized form of matter."
    Is this paraphrase acceptable?
  4. Yes      No

  5. A student conducting research for a course in modern music found this on the allmusic Web site:
    Davis was the son of a dental surgeon, Dr. Miles Dewey Davis, Jr., and a music teacher, Cleota Mae (Henry) Davis, and thus grew up in the black middle class of east St. Louis after the family moved there shortly after his birth. He became interested in music during his childhood and by the age of 12 began taking trumpet lessons.

    Here's the beginning of the student's research paper:
    According to the allmusic site on the Web, Miles Davis was the son of a dental surgeon, Dr. Miles Dewey Davis, Jr., and a music teacher, Cleota Mae (Henry) Davis, and thus grew up in the black middle class of east St. Louis after the family moved there shortly after his birth. He became interested in music during his childhood and by the age of 12 began taking trumpet lessons (Ruhlman).
    Is this an acceptable use of the research material?
  6. Yes      No