Chapter 5 Take-aways

1. 1.  Common knowledge can be tricky. In most cases, it is going to be knowledge that is factual, and is known to be true by many people. You can look up the same information in ten, fifteen, or more different sources and you’ll get the same answer. Things that are not common knowledge are more squishy—hypotheses and research results, opinions about issues, predictions about the future, things that are not actually factual but may be stated as facts by certain people. In all cases, if you look up information on these issues, you will read differing results or opinions or predictions. Which of the following is common knowledge and which is not:

  1. The Big Bang Theory is based on the assumption that the universe began billions of years ago with a tremendous explosion.
  2. A recent study from the Brookings Institute found that the number of people living in poverty in America grew by 12.3 million between 2000 and 2010.
  3. The dates of the Vietnam War.
  4. The effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam War veterans
  5. Richmond is the capital of Virginia
  6. Michelangelo was shorter than the average man of his time.
  7. There is a definite link between overhead power lines and cancer in children
  8. George Washington was the first president
  9. John Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald there were no other conspirators involved in the killing.Bill Clinton was elected as a result of a generational split.

2. According to Chapter 5, even if you are paraphrasing, summarizing and putting the author’s ideas into your own words, you still need to be careful to follow a few rules:

  • Even if you use none of the author’s original words, you need to site the ideas (where did you get this idea or fact) so you need a citation for the work that presents a specific idea or study result.
  • If you do use even one of the author’s words, if it is a significant word (like motorist, pedestrian, enhancing the safety of pedestrians), you need to put that word(s) in quotes. Of course you don’t have to put in quotes such words as and, the, of, are.
  • Be true to what the author is saying. Do not misrepresent the author’s message or conclusions.

3. Correct paraphrasing take a good deal of reflection about what the writer is saying. Summarizing an author’s ideas can take great skill, especially if you are synthesizing a paragraph down to a sentence. Keeping in mind the points in question 2, and based on the Chapter 5 readings, determine whether the following paraphrases are correct or not:

a. Original

In an age when students gravitate to online sources for research- and when tremendous amounts of both reputable and questionable information are available online- many have come to regard the Internet itself as a culprit in students’ plagiarism. Some teachers go so far as to forbid students from researching online, in the mistaken assumption that if students are working from hard-copy sources only, the problem will disappear.

Paraphrased

Many teachers blame the internet for the increase in student plagiarism. With so much information available to students online, there is more of a temptation to “cut and paste” materials word-for-word in their papers. In some cases, students are forbidden from using the internet at all for research, a constraint which often puts the student at a disadvantage.1

1. Rebecca Moore Howard and Laura J. Davis, “Plagiarism in the internet age,” Educational Leadership, 66:6 (March2009), pp. 64-67.

b. Original (This example came from the Owl at Purdue University, http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/619/1/)

Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final [research] paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes. Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

Paraphrased

Students often use too many direct quotations when they take notes, resulting in too many of them in the final research paper. In fact, probably only about 10% of the final copy should consist of directly quoted material. So it is important to limit the amount of source material copied while taking notes.

c. Original (This example came from Indiana University’s School of Education, https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/example1paraphrasing.html)

Developing complex skills in the classroom involves the key ingredients identified in teaching pigeons to play ping-pong and to bowl. The key ingredients are: (1) inducing a response, (2) reinforcing subtle improvements or refinements in the behavior, (3) providing for the transfer of stimulus control by gradually withdrawing the prompts or cues, and (4) scheduling reinforcements so that the ratio of reinforcements in responses gradually increases and natural reinforcers can maintain their behavior.

Gredler, M. E. (2001). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Paraphrased:

According to Gredler (2001), the same factors apply to developing complex skills in a classroom setting as to developing complex skills in any setting. A response must be induced, then reinforced as it gets closer to the desired behavior. Reinforcers have to be scheduled carefully, and cues have to be withdrawn gradually so that the new behaviors can be transferred and maintained.

References: Gredler, M. E. (2001). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

d. Original (This example came from Indiana University’s School of Education, https://www.indiana.edu/~istd/example1paraphrasing.html)

Technology has significantly transformed education at several major turning points in our history. In the broadest sense, the first technology was the primitive modes of communication used by prehistoric people before the development of spoken language. Mime, gestures, grunts, and drawing of figures in the sand with a stick were methods used to communicate – yes, even to educate. Even without speech, these prehistoric people were able to teach their young how to catch animals for food, what animals to avoid, which vegetation was good to eat and which was poisonous.

Frick, T. (1991). Restructuring education through technology. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Paraphrased:

History has demonstrated that technology affects education profoundly. Considering the definition of technology broadly, one may say that prehistoric people used primitive technologies to teach skills to their young (Frick, 1991).

e. Original (This example came from American University, http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=42&ved=0CDMQFjABOCg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.american.edu%2Focl%2Fasc%2Fupload%2FTo-Quote-Paraphrase-or-Summarize.pdf&ei=lixsUZOoCfHW2wWHh4CwCQ&usg=AFQjCNFS5wLb3EmRygExLPQYUDymOiPBJg&cad=rja)

“Students frequently overuse direct quotation in taking notes, and as a result they overuse quotations in the final paper. Probably only about 10% of your final manuscript should appear as directly quoted matter. Therefore, you should strive to limit the amount of exact transcribing of source materials while taking notes.” Lester, James D. Writing Research Papers. 2nd ed. (1976): 46-47.

Paraphrased:

Example: Students should take just a few notes in direct quotations from sources to help minimize the amount of quoted material in a research paper (Lester, 46-47).

f. Original

“. . .Television works on the same imaginative and intellectual level as psychoactive drugs. If prolonged television viewing makes the young passive (dozens of studies indicate that it does), then moving to drugs has a certain coherence. Drugs provide an unearned high in contrast to the earned rush that comes from a feat accomplished, a human breakthrough earned by sweat or thought or love.

“And because the television addict and the drug addict are alienated from the hard and scary world, they also feel that they make no difference in its complicated events. For the junkie, the world is reduced to him and the needle, pipe or vile; the self is absolutely isolated, with no desire for choice. The television addict behaves in the same way. Many Americans who fail to vote in presidential elections must believe they have no more control over such a choice than they do over the casting of L.A. Law. . ..”

Hamill, Pete. “Crack and the Box.” The Writer’s Presence. Second edition. Eds. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 1997. 296-301. Print.

Paraphrased (From Mcgeeheeblogs.com, http://mcgeheeblogs.com/writingcenter/research-and-citation/incorporating-sources-2/paraphrasing-correctly/)

Television and drugs have a lot in common. Both are very addictive and have been influencing the fate of our country. If it weren’t for drugs and television, more people would vote intelligently because they would not be seeing all of the persuasive commercials that alter opinions. In the same way, drug addicts don’t vote enough because they are too concerned with the next time they get high, instead of with current events (Hamill 299).

Hamill, Pete. “Crack and the Box.” The Writer’s Presence. Second edition. Eds. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 1997. 296-301. Print.

Answers to questions.

1.

  1. This is common knowledge. However, if you stated that the Big Bank Theory correctly describes the development of the universe, you would need to quote that.
  2. This is not common knowledge. You would need to cite where you got this information.
  3. Common knowledge.
  4. This is not common knowledge. There have been studies done on this subject, but there is no one definitive answer. You would need to site this information.
  5. Common knowledge
  6. This is not common knowledge. Most people don’t know this and would question how you can make that statement. You would need to cite your source.
  7. This is not common knowledge. Again, there may have been studies done in this area, but there is no certain answer. You would need to cite the source for this information.
  8. Common knowledge.
  9. This is a very controversial subject. It is pretty much common knowledge that Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy, but there is no agreement if there were other shooters or if Oswald were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the president. You would need to cite the source you used.
  10. This is not common knowledge. It is speculation perhaps based on quantifiable data, but it is not common knowledge. That Bill Clinton was elected is certainly common knowledge.

Fact is, if you aren’t sure whether or not something is common knowledge, you need to cite it.

2.

  1. Not plagiarism: This paraphrase is very close to the original. However, it does not copy words and it does represent what the author has said. Also, the author is cited.
  2. Plagiarism: The paraphraser has copied a few phrases from the original work. Also, original work is not cited.
  3. Plagiarism: There are phrases used in the paraphrase that are used in the original. Also, step 3 is missing.
  4. Plagiarism: A lot of the sense of the original argument is left out. Also, no citation.
  5. Plagiarism: Again, a lot of the sense of the argument is missing.
  6. Plagiarism: I don’t think the author was referring to drug addicts when s/he was talking about voting.
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Author: rjjackson

I'm a scholar librarian with various concerns and interests. As a child of the 1960s, I maintain an annotated bibliography of important 1960s books at http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rjackson/webbibl.html. I also publish about Information Literacy and cognitive development. My interest in plagiarism grows out of my interest in information literacy.

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