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Guide to Essay Writing and Research

Plagiarism and Essay Editing

These notes are intended to clarify point 12 of Essay Writing Tips

Plagiarism is a dishonest attempt to make the work of others appear as your own. Because of the dishonesty involved, the penalty is a mark of zero for the Paper, with the likely result of failure in the course. Under no circumstances will the student be allowed to rewrite the paper. The student may also be reported to the Dean who will decide if the case merits to be pursued further.
Essay Editing: Three types can be distinguished:
  1. A student who merely aligns excessively long or frequent quotations from one or more sources and has, consequently, contributed too little personally to the writing and analysis of the Paper.
  2. A student who is satisfied with summarizing one or more sources (however good!), following faithfully and slavishly these authors and where the personal contribution of the student is judged too limited.
  3. A student who uses direct quotes but without quotation marks, while still indicating in footnotes and bibliography where these “ideas” were from.
In any of the above cases, the student has not contributed sufficiently personally to receive a good mark. In the cases of Essay Editing, and where it is clear that no dishonesty was intended, the penalty shall invariably be a mark below 60% since the student is deemed to have merely edited the Paper and not really written enough of it. The specific mark assigned will be based on the gravity of the situation. It is important, as well, that it be clear that dishonesty was not intended; thus the sources must be clearly indicated, otherwise it will be deemed that you were trying to mislead your reader. Note that the distinction made here in the type #3 of Essay Editing is a personal one and many others would consider that this is a case of Plagiarism.
You must learn to write a Paper in a personal way. Authors will suggest ideas and evidence to you but you must learn to render all this material in your own words, following your own plan, your own analysis of the situation. Often, Plagiarism or Essay Editing are the result of ignorance, of writing papers at the last minute, only to realize suddenly that the task is beyond the capabilities of the moment and being tempted by an easy way out. Another source for it, is when the student is working, again at the last minute and in the dead of night, with all books spread on the table conducting research, analysis and writing all in one motion. Without realizing it, you are quoting without quotation marks, you are slavishly following one or two authors, you let others do your work. If such is your working method, you are bound to be “copying” the ideas, the style and the organization of the material of your sources.
Remember that a single sentence quoting directly an author, without quotation marks and a footnote, is sufficient to constitute Plagiarism and earn you a mark of zero in your Paper. A single sentence quoting directly an author, without quotation marks but with a footnote, constitutes Essay Editing and will earn you automatically a failing mark.
When in doubt, come to see me; this is always a wise move.

Contents | Four steps of Essay Writing | Essay Writing Tips |
Essay Evaluation Scheme | Plagiarism and Essay Writing |
Notes on Research and Bibliographical Work | Sample Title Page

© 2003 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College


© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College