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A few notes about this "four letter" word

Plagiarism, sounds similar to plague, which reminds me of the pandemic we are still living through.  If not a pandemic, some writers have described a plagiarism and academic dishonesty epidemic tearing through our colleges and universities.  Whether intentional or otherwise, some students find themselves stumbling into sticky situations.  While I could talk at length about this "four letter" situation, I will only discuss a few tight spots that students sometimes encounter.

In the meantime, why not take a look at my favorite bibliography of all time, reproduced below.  (I am sure Mr. Andrew Sharp will not mind if I showcase his work.) He was one of Canada's original wine experts who sadly passed away in the year 2000.

Now that's a Bibliography!


In a work such as this it is not uncommon to be presented in the latter pages with a long list of reference material the author employed to assist and inspire him in his endeavours.  And it only seems correct and fitting that these sources receive due credit.

But at the risk of appearing impudent I'll not present such a list for Winetasters Secrets.  This is not due to any lack of appreciation for those wine authors whose works I have read with respect and admiration, but because the list is so long.  At this point it would be almost impossible for me to determine which bit of information and data came from which source.

Perhaps it is sufficient for me to admit that little in this book is original.  It is founded on works, judgments, and opinions of innumerable winelovers, many who penned their experiences and thoughts long before I came to be.

What more can I say?


Now that you have read my favorite bibliography of all time, what more can I say?  If you find yourself, in the wee hours of the night, or the early morning, writing something like this, it's time to put the glass down, get some sleep, and come to your senses!

Would you believe it if I told you that this is a real bibliography, written by Andrew Sharp, a very accomplished wine taster?  Not surprisingly, in the world of college writing, we need to do things a little differently....

I hope the pages in this guide are proving useful.

Taking shots at the Plagiarism

Let's talk about a few sticky situations in the form of questions and answers.

Example 1

You are writing a psychology essay and you have three articles.  The assignment requires five articles, and it is due the next day.  To save time, you decide to use some of the quotes from within the three sources you have, and cite them as though they came from the articles where they were originally found.

In other words, Professor Jack Smith writes an essay in which he quotes from an essay written by Professor Mary Jane Bligh.  You decide to take Professor Bligh’s quote and reference it as coming from Professor Bligh’s article, even though you have not read her article.

Given the tight time-constraints, is this ok to do?

Yes or No

Answer: No,  Writing in college brings with it an implicit honor code whereby there is an assumption that the participants have read the information sources, or the complete parts of the sources that they bring along into their own writing.  Reading the sources is much different than pretending to have read the sources.  In fact, with the knowledge of Professor Bligh's particular writing in this case it is possible that you may be misrepresenting her arguments.  Having said this, it is correct to quote Bligh's work, as it appears in Professor Smith's essay, as long as you acknowledge that you found it in the context of his essay.

In consideration of the time constraints, it is the student's responsibility to find a resolution while researching and writing with honesty.


Example 2

You have read seven articles for your major Social Studies essay.  While you have only made use of four of them in your essay, the assignment calls for a minimum of five sources.

To get the most credit for your effort, how many sources should you include in your APA style Reference list?

  1. 4
  2. 5
  3. 6
  4. 7

Answer: A. 4. It is tempting to answer 7 or even 5 for this question.  Keep in mind that college writing assumes an implicit honor code between student and professor whereby the student promises to read all of the sources that he or she makes use of in a research report.  The rules of APA extend this promise by saying that students are only permitted to add to their list of references those sources that they have made use of, in some way. 

Students often worry about the loss of marks and are even willing to sacrifice higher ideas for the burden of better marks.  In this example there is no ideal way forward.  The assignment is due, and the student will lose marks.  In writing with clarity and honesty, the rules of APA style must be followed even if it means that the student has not met the minimum number of sources.  To add a fifth source is to violate the code of honor.  The fifth source would simply be floating in the clouds, with no connection to the student's work, and simply included in the service of the student's base desire for higher marks, and in opposition to the virtue of Education.

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