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Latin American Studies

Avoiding Plagiarism

True Plagiarism is Stealing
Each day we take ideas from others without acknowledging the original source. When we talk about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire or say, "To be or not to be, that is the question" in normal conversation, we rarely give credit to Gibbon and Shakespeare. However, plagiarism in research, taking another’s work and passing it off as your own, is quite different. True plagiarism is stealing.

Take Excellent Notes
Plagiarism often stems from sloppy research and subsequent rewriting rather than a deliberate desire to cheat. Nevertheless, even unintentional failure to cite sources correctly and honestly may constitute plagiarism. Many students mistakenly take bad notes during the research process. They write someone else’s text verbatim on a card or on their computer and forget quotation marks. When they write the paper and refer to their notes, they forget the text on the card or computer is another author’s and not their own. Any reader who recognizes the original text believes that the student has cheated. This can lead to tough penalties.

Golden rule: take excellent notes, utilize them effectively, write the entire paper yourself, and document sources well and honestly.

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