23 August 2000
Guide to Essay Writing and Research
Plagiarism and Essay Editing
These notes are intended to clarify point 13 of Essay
- To plagiarize is to make the work of others appear as your own. It is essentially dishonest in nature. 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 will also be reported to the Associate Dean who will decide
if the case merits to be pursued further.
Essay Editing: Three types can be distinguished:
- 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.
- 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.
- A student who uses direct quotes but without quotation marks, while
still indicating in footnotes and bibliography where these ideas
- 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.