Writing 1 – Summer Semester 2003 – Sara B. Young – Documenting Sources
Plagiarism (derived from the Latin word for “kidnapping”) is “the use of someone else’s words without
crediting the other person.” 1 It may be deliberate, such as when a student copies directly from another
source, be it a book, article, web site or another student’s work. It may also be unintentional, a result of
not understanding the guidelines for documentation or of sloppy note-taking, but those are not
acceptable excuses. You are responsible for understanding what material must be documented and you
must do so properly in any assignment you write, of any length, for any class.
You do not have to document: 2
Common knowledge – That Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996 counts as common knowledge.
The exact number of votes he got does not.
Facts available in a variety of sources – That the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor did not
destroy the oil tanks or submarines does not have to be documented, but the argument that
this failure to destroy the submarines caused Japan to lose the war would have to be
You must document: 3
Facts not widely known or arguable assertions – If you claim that Switzerland is amassing an
offensive nuclear arsenal you would have to document your source, since Switzerland has long
been an officially neutral state and this is not a “fact” available in a variety of sources.
Judgments, opinions – Even if the wording is completely your own, you must acknowledge that
you are quoting someone else’s opinion, judgment or conclusion.
Statistics, charts, table, graphs
Avoid unintentional plagiarism by keeping these guidelines in mind and by taking careful notes. If you
copy a quote directly from a source into your notes, be sure you include quotation marks in your notes.
Do not assume that you will later remember that it is a direct quote. Be sure to also take exact notes on
the source so that you can later document it correctly. Be familiar with the required documentation style
so that you keep track of all necessary information while you are doing your research, and can put
together a complete and accurate bibliography.
“Quoting involves bringing a source’s exact words into your text. Use an author’s exact words when the
wording is so memorable or expresses a point so well that you cannot improve or shorten it without
weakening it, when the author is a respected authority whose opinion supports your own ideas, or when
an author challenges or disagrees profoundly with others in the field.” 4
Quotations are marked by quotation marks. (Please note that in English, quotation marks are “both up”
and not, as in German, „down, then up.")
Punctuation, capitalization and spelling must be exactly the same as in the original. Even if there is a
mistake in the original, you must quote it exactly. To indicate that the error was in the original and is not
a mistake you have made, write “sic” (Latin for “thus) in brackets after the error.
Within a quotation, brackets – [….] – indicate that you have added or changed words (for example, to
clarify the context if you are using only part of a quotation, or to change a sentence grammatically so
that it fits into your text), and ellipses – … – indicate that you have left something out. However, be
careful in editing a quotation that you do not change the meaning!
1 Andrea A. Lunsford. The Everyday Writer, 2 nd ed. (Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2001), 119.
2 Ibid., 120.
3 Ibid., 120-1.
4 Ibid., 113-14.
“When you paraphrase, you put an author’s material (including major and minor points, usually in the
order they are presented) into your own words and sentence structure. If you wish to cite some of the
author's words within the paraphrase, enclose them in quotation marks.” 5
EXAMPLE OF UNACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASING 6
It is not clear who makes and who is made in the relation between human and
machine. It is not clear what is mind and what body in machines that resolve into
coding practices. In so far as we know ourselves in both formal discourse (for
example, biology) and in daily practice (for example, the home-work economy in the
integrated circuit), we find ourselves to be cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras.
Biological organisms have become biotic systems, communications devices like
others. There is no fundamental, ontological separation in our formal knowledge of
machine and organism, of technical and organic. The replicant Rachel in the Ridley
Scott film Blade Runner stands as the image of a cyborg culture’s fear, love, and
confusion. (from Donna J. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, & Women)
UNACCEPTABLE PARAPHRSE THAT USES THE AUTHOR’S WORDS WITHOUT QUOTATION MARKS (UNDERLINED
As Haraway explains, in a high-tech culture like ours, who makes and who is made,
what is mind or body, becomes unclear. When we look at ourselves in relation to the
real or the mechanical world, we must admit we are cyborgs, and even biological
organisms are now communications systems. Thus our beings can't be separated
from machines. A fine example of this cyborg image is Rachel in Ridley Scott’s Blade
UNACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASE THAT USES THE AUTHOR’S SENTENCE STRUCTURES
As Haraway explains, it is unclear who is the maker and who is the made. It is unclear
what in the processes of machines might be the mind and what the body. Thus in
order to know ourselves at all, we must recognize ourselves to be cyborgs. Biology
then becomes just another device for communication. As beings, we can't separate
the bodily from the mechanical anymore. Thus Rachel in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner
becomes the perfect symbol of cyborg culture.
ACCEPTABLE PARAPHRASE, WHICH INCLUDES A QUOTATION FROM THE ORIGINAL
As Haraway’s entire chapter demonstrates, today the line between person and
machine is forever blurred, especially in terms of the binary coding systems used by
computers to “know.” If knowing thyself is still important, then, we must know
ourselves as “cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras.” Moviemaker Ridley Scott
provides a good example of this mixture in the character of Rachel in Blade Runner.
“A summary is a significantly shortened version of a passage or even a whole chapter or work that
captures main idea in your own words. Unlike a paraphrase, a summary uses just enough information to
record the points you wish to emphasize.” 7
POSSIBLE SUMMARY OF THE ABOVE TEXT: 8
Haraway says humans today are already part machine, and she cites the Ridley Scott movie
Blade Runner as an example.
Caution! In paraphrasing or summarizing, be sure you always clearly introduce the paraphrase or
summary so that the reader understands that what you are about to say is your report of what someone
else has said. If your paraphrase or summary is several sentences long, be sure each sentence is
clearly marked as part of the paraphrase or summary. German has the verb form Konjunktiv I (habe,
solle, usw). for this, but English has no equivalent.
EXAMPLE OF A CLEARLY MARKED PARAPHRASE: 9
“Professor of linguistics Deborah Tannen says that she offers her book That’s Not What I
Meant! to “women and men everywhere who are trying their best to talk to each other.” Tannen goes on
to illustrate how communication between women and men breaks down and then to suggest that a full
awareness of ‘genderlects’ can improve relationships.”
5 Ibid., 115.
6 Ibid., 116-17.
7 Ibid., 117.
8 Ibid., 118.
9 Ibid., 127.