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Avoiding plagiarism

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Look at the following source and the way in which two students have used it in their assignment.

Drum scanners - original source

Today, drum scanners remain the best high-end choice, but while their prices have come down significantly, they remain expensive in comparison to flatbed or sheetfed scanners. Their advantage lies in the fact that they typically use photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), which are more sophisticated sensors than the charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and contact image sensors (CISs) used in other kinds of scanners. That, and the fact that the original is rotated past the PMTs again and again at high speed, makes drum scanners important professional tools.

Source: "Scanner tips", (2000, February 20), ( Scan Soft), Available: http://www.scannercentral.com/scanners/tips/tips1.asp (Accessed: 2000, May 6).

Drum scanners - Student A

Now, drum scanners are a good choice, however even though their prices have dropped, they are still expensive compared to flatbed or sheetfed scanners. Their strong feature is that they use photomultplier tubes (PMTs), which are more sophisticated than the charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and contact image sensors (CISs) used in other kinds of scanners. This and the rotation of the original past thePMTs at a fast speed means drum scanners are important professional tools.

Drum scanners - Student B

These scanners were widely used in the past, however they are much less commonly used today due to advances in scanner technology. As a result of their expense, these machines are only used by professionals in industry, where they are considered important due to the high-end quality they produce and because they use PMT technology which is more sophisticated than CCDs and CISs. Drum scanners are difficult to operate and technicians operate these scanners by placing the item to be scanned on a glass cylinder and rotating this cylinder at high speeds around the sensor (Scanner tips 2000).

Do you think either of these students has plagiarised the original source? Why? Why not?

Student A: Plagiarism Yes No

Student B: Plagiarism Yes No

Check your answers




Strategies to avoid plagiarism

  • When you are taking notes, try to record key ideas and information from source material in your own words either in sentence or note form.
  • Remember to write down the source and page number for ideas and information you record in your notes.
  • Always distinguish other writers' ideas in your notes from general knowledge and your own ideas. You may do this by using quotation marks if you are directly quoting a source or notes in the margin of the page.
  • Remember that an effective approach to notetaking involves identifying the author's purpose, evaluating the ideas presented, and raising your own questions about these ideas. The main benefit of this approach is that it assists you to impose your own understanding on the texts you have read - something your lecturer will be looking for in your writing.
  • When writing your assignment, try to paraphrase the ideas and information you have found in your own writing style so that you do not retain the same sentence structure as the source material.
  • As you are presenting information from source material in your assignment, remember to acknowledge the source. It is much easier to write a citation for the source at this time than when you are editing a final draft of the assignment.
  • Always follow referencing guidelines and models carefully.

Student A

Student A has plagiarised the original source in two ways: 1) by using words from the original source without using quotation marks, and 2) by not indicating the source with a citation.

This student has used a series of unacknowledged quotations and paraphrases which retain the sentence structure of the original source. In other words, it is simply a duplication of the original text. The student needs to assimilate information from the source into her assignment structure and to express this in her own words. Notice that there are no comments from the student writer at the beginning of the paragraph or the end of the paragraph relating the information obtained from the source to the student's overall assignment structure.

The plagiarised sections of this student's work can be clearly seen below in a comparison of Student A's paragraph with the original source. The words borrowed from the original source have been underlined; this does not include the words replaced with synonyms. Notice that Student A's paragraph predominantly consists of phrases taken directly from the original source.

Drum Scanners - Student A

Now, drum scanners are a good choice, however even though their prices have dropped, they are still expensive compared to flatbed or sheetfed scanners. Their strong feature is that they use photomultplier tubes (PMTs), which are more sophisticated than the charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and contact image sensors (CISs) used in other kinds of scanners. This and the rotation of the original past the PMTs at a fast speed means drum scanners are important professional tools.

Drum Scanners - original source

Today, drum scanners remain the best high-end choice, but while their prices have come down significantly, they remain expensive in comparison to flatbed or sheetfed scanners. Their advantage lies in the fact that they typically use photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), which are more sophisticated sensors than the charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and contact image sensors (CISs) used in other kinds of scanners. That, and the fact that the original is rotated past the PMTs again and again at high speed, makes drum scanners important professional tools.

Source: "Scanner tips", (2000, February 20), ( Scan Soft), Available: http://www.scannercentral.com/scanners/tips/tips1.asp (Accessed: 2000, May 6).




Student B

In contrast to Student A's paragraph, Student B has paraphrased the information in his own words and acknowledged the source of the information. The order of the ideas has been changed from the original to reflect the focus taken in the student's assignment.

You should try to use sources in a way which is based on your own thoughts and interpretation of the other authors' work, and incorporate this information into the structure of your assignment.

A comparison of Student B's paragraph and the original source reveals that quotation marks are not necessary as only a few single words were borrowed from the original source.

Drum Scanners - Student B

These scanners were widely used in the past, however they are much less commonly used today due to advances in scanner technology. As a result of their expense, these machines are only used by professionals in industry, where they are considered important due to the high-end quality they produce and because they use PMT technology which is more sophisticated than CCDs and CISs. Drum scanners are difficult to operate and technicians operate these scanners by placing the item to be scanned on a glass cylinder and rotating this cylinder at high speeds around the sensor (Scanner tips 2000).

Drum Scanners - original source

Today, drum scanners remain the best high-end choice, but while their prices have come down significantly, they remain expensive in comparison to flatbed or sheetfed scanners. Their advantage lies in the fact that they typically use photomultiplier tubes ( PMTs), which are more sophisticated sensors than the charge-coupled devices ( CCDs) and contact image sensors ( CISs) used in other kinds of scanners. That, and the fact that the original is rotated past the PMTs again and again at high speed, makes drum scanners important professional tools.

Source: "Scanner tips", (2000, February 20), ( Scan Soft), Available: http://www.scannercentral.com/scanners/tips/tips1.asp (Accessed: 2000, May 6).

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