(based on the Mary Washington College Honor Code)
1. Plagiarism consists of presenting the language (words), ideas, or facts of another author as one’s original work.
If you have any doubt about the source of your information or ideas, include the appropriate reference. Students often fear including too many citations in one paper. You could face expulsion for plagiarism, but you cannot be expelled for having too many citations. Also, if you are concerned that your paper has too many citations think about how to reformulate your paper to include more of your own ideas.
2. Common Knowledge
Very little historical information is common knowledge.
If you have any doubts about whether the information that you want to include is common knowledge, provide a complete citation.
An example of common knowledge: Independence Day is celebrated on the fourth of July.
A person’s birthday and date of death, presidential tenures, and other dates are considered common knowledge unless they are the subject of historical dispute.
Also, be sure to notice whether all of the authors whom you have read derive their facts, dates, or other information from the same source. If so, it may not be considered common knowledge.
Paraphrasing is the significant or complete rewording of a passage or an idea, using one’s own sentence structure. All paraphrased information must be documented (except for common knowledge).
4. Quoted Matter
All direct quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks and must be documented. [SEE ALSO THE DEPARTMENT’S GUIDE TO QUOTATIONS.]
Even if the author’s name and the title of the work in which quotations appear are cited in the narrative, the quotations must be in quote marks and documented.
Even if the sources are documented in footnotes, quotations must be in quote marks. If they are not, it will appear as if the ideas belong to the documented sources but that the words belong to the author of the paper. In fact, both ideas and words belong to the cited sources. Claiming either is plagiarism.
- Sometimes even one word can be significant and require quotation marks (and, of course, documentation). However, in most cases, colloquial phrases do NOT require quotation marks.
- Quotations of more than three consecutive significant words should be enclosed in quotation marks.
- Quotations of more than three lines should be double indented and single spaced as block quotes.
An example from Richard Marius and Melvin E. Page, A Short Guide to Writing about History, 5th ed. (New York: Longman, 2005), 21.
“You may find that some ideas you get on your own are similar to those you read in secondary sources. You should then document those secondary sources and, either in a footnote or in the body of your text, point out the similarities and the differences between those sources and what you have written.”1
If you decided to use this block quotation in your text, it would appear as follows:
You may find that some ideas you get on your own are similar to those you read in secondary sources. You should then document those secondary sources and, either in a footnote or in the body of your text, point out the similarities and the differences between those sources and what you have written.1
Note that block quotations should be single-spaced, indented on the left side, and is NOT enclosed in quotation marks. See Turabian 14.4 for more information.