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Plagiarism: a study in the spectacular fall of Dr. Chris Spence!


The essence of paraphrasing is your ability to read a passage and use your own words to preserve the author’s meaning in your essay.  You should strive to change every word, at least in principle.  A useful practice is to read the passage, cover it up and write using your own words.  Afterwards, cover what you have written and write it again.

Quotations are not included because you have used your own words.  However, you must include an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion because you have borrowed someone else’s idea(s).

Adding context and leaving plenty of room for your own ideas in the essay are also necessary requirements of paraphrasing well.


In this exercise, we will work with the same passage of text from Susan D. Blum’s book, MY Word!: Plagiarism and college culture.  Try to design an appropriate paraphrase that incorporates the elements of using your own words, an in-text citation, reasonable length, and context.

“Students who plagiarize, who improperly incorporate someone else’s text into their own without giving credit, may be committing a grave academic misdeed.  Some really don’t know how to avoid it, because the rules are terribly subtle and take many years to master.  Some deliberately do so to get the job done.  There are many motives, many reasons, many biographical details.” (Blum, 2009, p. 6)

Sample Answer

Blum (2009) has observed that students turn to plagiarism from an array of intentions and personal social situations. (p. 6)


  • The idea has been preserved using different words.
  • There is proper use of in-text citing: Blum (2009)... (p. 6)
  • The paraphrased portion is not overly lengthy.
  • Relevant context has been included:  Blum (2009) has observed that…
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