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Fine Arts: Avoid Plagiarism

This guide will help you do research related to the fine arts & offers MFA thesis help.

Pratt's Self-Test

Ask yourself:

"I. Am I deliberately recalling any particular source of information as I write this paper?

II. Am I consulting any source as I write this paper?

If the answer to these questions is no, the writer need have no fear of using sources dishonestly."

(Pratt Student Handbook 2012 137)

Resources

Thoughts on Plagiarism

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is defined as the uncredited copying of another person's words, images, or music, which is another way of saying that plagiarism is theft.  While ideas can be reused, and indeed expanded upon, the exact wording and organization of a text describing that idea is the creation of the original author; copying that text or organization and calling it your own is a form of stealing, and is subject to harsh penalties from your professor and from Pratt. 

Upon entering Pratt, students agree to the Academic Integrity Code that lays out the penalties for copying another's work, and professors take it seriously. Plagiarizing another's work not only fails to give credit where it's due but it prevents the plagiarist from getting the most out of the assignment -

how much have you really learned if you're just copying someone else?

Plagiarism Type #1: Copying without quoting.

Image source


As you read the following, note the word usage and style:

Original: "The unicorn, one of the most fabulous of all hybrid creatures, has appealed to the imagination as much as the dragon, from the early days of civilization to our own time. Not as old as the dragon, its features are not as ugly or repulsive. ... Its most significant attributes include, first of all, the single horn, which is frequently spiralled, the speed of its action, its solitary habits and the colors ascribed to its body and horn. Like the dragon it is ambivalent in character: it can be very gentle and bestow a number of benefits; it can also be the most ferocious of adversaries."
(Suhr, Elmer G. "An Interpretation of the Unicorn." Folklore 75.2 (Summer 1964): 91-109. JSTOR. 24 October 2012.)

When a text is copied verbatim, the wording is either exact or barely changed (and often the word usage will stick out as not in character for the plagiarizing writer): 

Plagiarized: The unicorn is as much a part of cultural history as the dragon, but its features are not as ugly or repulsive. Though its physical characteristics remain relatively stable, the single horn being the most obvious, it is ambivalent in character; it can be very gentle or it can be ferocious.

The best way to avoid getting in trouble for this is by CITING YOUR SOURCES:

Fixed: The unicorn is as much a part of cultural history as the dragon, but Suhr notes that "its features are not as ugly or repulsive" (91).  Though its physical characteristics remain relatively stable, the single horn being the most obvious, "it is ambivalent in character; it can be very gentle or it can be ferocious" (Suhr 91).

The verbatim quotations are put in quotation marks and attributed with the author and page number where it can be found, so the reader can look up the work by Suhr in the works cited, go to page 91, and find the exact quote.

Plagiarism Type #2: Copying ideas and organization.

Now pay attention to the order in which these ideas are presented:

Original: "The unicorn, one of the most fabulous of all hybrid creatures, has appealed to the imagination as much as the dragon, from the early days of civilization to our own time. Not as old as the dragon, its features are not as ugly or repulsive. ... Its most significant attributes include, first of all, the single horn, which is frequently spiralled, the speed of its action, its solitary habits and the colors ascribed to its body and horn. Like the dragon it is ambivalent in character: it can be very gentle and bestow a number of benefits; it can also be the most ferocious of adversaries."
(Suhr, Elmer G. "An Interpretation of the Unicorn." Folklore 75.2 (Summer 1964): 91-109. JSTOR. 24 October 2012.)

Though the wording may be different, the series of ideas is similar or the same to that of the original author: 

Plagiarized: The unicorn, a wondrous beast, has been as fascinating as the dragon, from ancient times to the present. Though the idea of the unicorn is younger than that of the dragon, it is much more appealing in looks, especially the single horn, which is usually a spiral. Similar to dragons, it can be either friend or foe.

Again, CITING YOUR SOURCES is the best way to avoid getting in trouble for copying someone else's ideas:

Fixed: Suhr describes how the mythical unicorn has been as fascinating to people as the dragon since it was first devised.  Though the idea of the unicorn is younger than that of the dragon, he notes that it has been seen as much more appealing in looks, especially the single, usually spiral horn.  He also cites the unicorn's ambivalence, similar to that of the dragon, in that it can be either friend or foe (Suhr 91).

Every idea that was originally Suhr's is attributed to him, with a citation at the end for good measure.