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Plagiarism of Text

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Plagiarism of text
Copying a portion of text from another source without giving appropriate credit to its author.

When it comes to using others' word-for-word (i.e., verbatim) text in our writing the universally accepted rule is to enclose that information in quotations and to indicate the specific source of that text. When quoting text from other sources, a writer must provide a reference citation and, depending on the style manual that guides the work (e.g., Turabian, American Psychological Association [APA],American Medical Association [AMA]), the page number indicating where the quoted text is located in the original. Although the use of direct quotes appears to be uncommon in biomedical literature, in some instances it may be warranted. The material quoted earlier from Gilchrist (1979) serves as a good example of when to use quotations. Some writing style manuals require that larger portions of text that are borrowed be block-indented. For example quoting directly from Iverson, et al (2007; p. 361):

Block Quotations
If material quoted from texts or speeches is longer than four typewritten lines. The material should be set off in a block, i.e., in reduced type and without the quotation mark. Paragraph indents are generally not used unless the quoted material is known to begin a paragraph. Space is often added both above and below these longer quotations.

Although the evidence indicates that most authors, including college students, are aware of rules regarding the use of quotation marks, plagiarism of text is probably the most common type of plagiarism.  For example, some authors seem to believe that as long as a citation is provided, it is acceptable to use verbatim text from another source without needing to enclose the borrowed material in quotation marks (Julliard, 1993). However, plagiarism of text can occur in a variety of forms. The following review will familiarize the reader with the various subtle forms of plagiarism of text.

Guideline 2: Any verbatim text taken from another source must be enclosed in quotation marks and be accompanied by a citation to indicate its origin.

Let's consider the following variety:

Copying portions of text from one or more sources, inserting and/or deleting some of the words, or substituting some words with synonyms, but never giving credit to its author nor enclosing the verbatim material in quotation marks.

The above form of plagiarism is relatively well known and has been given names, such as patchwriting (Howard, 1999) and paraphragiarism (Levin & Marshall, 1993). Iverson, et al. (2007) in the American Medical Association's Manual of Style identify this type of unethical writing practice as mosaic plagiarism and they define it as follows:

"Mosaic: Borrowing the ideas and opinions from an original source and a few verbatim words or phrases without crediting the original author. In this case, the plagiarist intertwines his or her own ideas and opinions with those of the original author, creating a 'confused plagiarized mass'" (p. 158).

Another, more blatant form which may also fall under the more general category of plagiarism of ideas occurs when an author takes a portion of text from another source, thoroughly paraphrases it, but never gives credit to its author. Consistent with the first guideline, we must be careful to indicate which ideas/material in our writing have been derived from which source.