A Statement on Plagiarism
Using someone else's ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as our own, either on
purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense known as plagiarism.
"Ideas or phrasing" includes
written or spoken material, of course — from whole papers and paragraphs to sentences, and, indeed, phrases
— but it also includes statistics, lab results, art work, etc. "Someone else" can mean a professional source,
such as a published writer or critic in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or journal; an electronic resource such
as material we discover on the World Wide Web; another student at our school or anywhere else; a paper-
writing "service" (online or otherwise) which offers to sell written papers for a fee.
Let us suppose, for example, that we're doing a paper for Music Appreciation on the child prodigy years of
the composer and pianist Franz Liszt and that we've read about the development of the young artist in several
sources. In Alan Walker's book
Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years
(Ithaca: 1983), we read that Liszt's father
encouraged him, at age six, to play the piano from memory, to sight-read music and, above all, to improvise.
We can report in our paper (and in our own words) that Liszt was probably the most gifted of the child
prodigies making their mark in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century — because that is the kind of
information we could have gotten from a number of sources; it has become what we call common
However, if we report on the boy's father's role in the prodigy's development, we should give proper credit to
Alan Walker. We could write, for instance, the following:
Franz Liszt's father encouraged him, as early as
age six, to practice skills which later served him as an internationally recognized prodigy (Walker 59).
Or, we could write something like this: