Instruction: Overview of Expert Level

When two or more sources are used, recognize various combinations of:

    • proper/improper paraphrasing,
    • proper/improper quotations,
    • misleading or careless writing.

Some plagiarism is subtle and requires careful inspection when comparing the plagiarized version with the original source. For example, in double-trouble, the text highlighted in purple is paraphrasing plagiarism, while the part highlighted in yellow is word-for-word plagiarism. The correct answer on the test would be word-for-word plagiarism, since there is no response option for both kinds of plagiarism.

On the other hand, if paraphrased text lacks a proper citation, and there is no word-for-word plagiarism, this is a severed cite. This pattern of paraphrasing plagiarism can be subtle, especially when other parts of the writing are properly cited and referenced. It can also occur when citations by a writer are not carefully placed, resulting in ambiguity about whose ideas are whose.

Does every sentence paraphrased from the original source require a citation?

No, but the writer should make it clear that the citation applies to the whole group of sentences. In addition to proper citation, careful writers provide further cues to their readers which clearly identify whose ideas are whose, in order to avoid plagiarism.

Careful writers tell readers early on when another author's idea is being described and make it clear that it is the other author's idea being discussed in that whole group of sentences. When there is a switch to someone else's idea, including the writer's own idea, then careful writers tell the reader explicitly.

When a citation is provided at the end of a group of sentences or at the end of a paragraph, readers could infer that the citation applies only to the last sentence. Earlier sentences which lack attribution of the source might appear to be the writer's own ideas, when instead they are paraphrasing plagiarism (severed cite).

Therefore, on the test, you not only need to look for direct quotes, paraphrasing, appropriate citations, and references, but also to look for any additional writer cues that further clarify whose ideas they are. This cannot be done mindlessly. You need to read carefully and comprehend what the writer is trying to say in order to make judgments, particularly when there is ambiguity about attribution of ideas. Just because there are proper citations and references does not mean that there is no plagiarism. Omission or misplacement of citations, lack of quotation marks, incomplete citations, and other forms of writer carelessness or deception can constitute subtle forms of plagiarism.

Perhaps most subtle is parroted paraphrasing. While some may argue that this is not technically plagiarism, it often indicates that a writer lacks adequate comprehension of other people's ideas. People who write or speak this way are not thinking critically. See "R U a Dupe?"

For further insight and examples, see patterns of plagiarism. Note that if both word-for-word and paraphrasing plagiarism occurs in a sample of student writing, you would answer word-for-word plagiarism on a Practice Test or a Certification Test. You may find it further helpful if you try our interactive decision support.

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