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Research Fundamentals Tutorial

Acceptable use verses plagiarism

When you submit a research project in college, you are expected to use other people’s words and ideas to support your argument. How can you do this and avoid plagiarism?

The answer is: with proper citation.

In Module 6 we reviewed quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Let’s look at some examples of this. If they’re properly cited, it’s acceptable use. If they’re improperly cited, it’s plagiarism.

Activity: Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing

Let's start with a piece of text from a Slate magazine article. Here's the citation: 

Pitzer, A. “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: Did the Singer Songwriter Take Portions of His Nobel Lecture from SparkNotes?” Slate, 13 June 2017.


Now read the following passage from the Slate article, then determine if the quotes, summaries, and paraphrases of the passage that follow are acceptable or would be considered plagiarism.

If a songwriter can win the Nobel Prize for literature, can CliffsNotes be art? During his official lecture recorded on June 4, laureate Bob Dylan described the influence on him of three literary works from his childhood: The Odyssey, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Moby-Dick. Soon after, writer Ben Greenman noted that in his lecture Dylan seemed to have invented a quote from Moby-Dick.

Those familiar with Dylan’s music might recall that he winkingly attributed fabricated quotes to Abraham Lincoln in his “Talking.” So Dylan making up an imaginary quote is nothing new. However, I soon discovered that the Moby-Dick line Dylan dreamed up last week seems to be cobbled together out of phrases on the website SparkNotes, the online equivalent of CliffsNotes. (Pitzer).