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Using evidence to substantiate your argument

Click on the highlighted text to see the comments.

It is important that your report reflects your response to the topic rather than consisting solely of material and ideas from other authors. To achieve this, your lecturer expects you to:

  • read a range of information sources relevant to the topic
  • interpret the ideas of other authors contained in these sources
  • structure your writing based upon your interpretations

You can then use the ideas of other authors to support the line of thinking in your assignment.

The process of integrating references into your assignment takes practice. Some students make the mistake of relying heavily on other authors' ideas, and produce assignments which consist of a series of quotes connected by a few of the student's own sentences. This approach is not appropriate at university: you need to understand the material well enough to express the main ideas in your own words.

Read the original source text below and compare the way in which Student A and Student B have referred to the ideas from this source in their assignments. Which student text has appropriately integrated ideas from the source?

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 the PMTs 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).

Comments



Student A

Student A's paragraph is too similar to the original text. It consists of a series of unacknowledged quotations and paraphrases which retain the sentence structure of the original source. There are no comments from the student writer either at the beginning of the paragraph or the end of the paragraph to relate the information obtained from the source to the student's overall assignment structure. The student needs to assimilate information from the source into her assignment structure and to express this in her own words.

This student has also plagiarised the original source by using exact phrases from the source without using quotation marks, and by not providing a citation. To correct this, quotation marks and a citation are required. However, despite these changes, the paragraph would continue to have the problem of poorly integrated ideas from the source text.

The plagiarised sections of this student's work can be seen clearly in a comparison of Student A's paragraph with the original source. The words borrowed from the original source have been highlighted (these words do not include the words replaced with synonyms).

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 the PMTs at a fast speed means drum scanners are important professional tools.


Student B

In contrast to Student A's paragraph, Student B has appropriately integrated ideas from the original source into her paragraph. The main ideas have been paraphrased in the student's own words and the source of the information acknowledged. The student has developed her own thoughts and interpretation of the other authors' work and incorporated this information into the structure of her assignment. The order of the ideas has been changed from the original source to reflect the focus taken in the student's assignment. The original source has not been plagiarised in this paragraph.

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 - 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 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).

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