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#814727 - Sun Aug 12 2012 03:31 PM Plagiarism question.....
ShadowStar889 Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 04 2012
Posts: 23
Loc: Oklahoma USA
Okay, I need help. In the Question Quest submission box I submitted a question about citric acid. In the interesting info I said - Citric acid is used to give a sour taste to various foods and soft drinks.

Later, I look on Wikipedia for citric acid and it says:
"It [Citric acid] is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks."


*Gasp* Oh no..... cry

I think this is technically plagiarism, so can I get my question taken off and re-edited?


Edited by ShadowStar889 (Sun Aug 12 2012 04:28 PM)
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#814733 - Sun Aug 12 2012 05:35 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: ShadowStar889]
CmdrK Offline
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Registered: Sun Jan 17 2010
Posts: 1766
Loc: Nevada USA
Drop down the "Me" menu at the top of the home page, scroll down to "My single questions edit." Click on "My Contributions: All Accepted Submissions" on the right. You'll see all your questions with a 'submit corrections' link.

Actually, citric acid is pretty much a one-trick pony; there are only so many ways you can describe it. wink
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#814736 - Sun Aug 12 2012 05:40 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: CmdrK]
ShadowStar889 Offline
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Registered: Sat Aug 04 2012
Posts: 23
Loc: Oklahoma USA
*whew* Thanks! That's good to hear. smile
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#814834 - Mon Aug 13 2012 08:37 AM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: ShadowStar889]
satguru Offline
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Registered: Thu Feb 17 2000
Posts: 6994
Loc: Kingsbury London UK           
Before you get into editing I'd see if officially there were different rules for technical descriptions as the most important consideration there is accuracy, and as such there should only be one correct description, it's not copying someone else's work as such so doesn't look the same to me, but see what an editor says.
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#815754 - Thu Aug 16 2012 07:40 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: satguru]
einsteinII Offline
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Registered: Fri Jul 20 2012
Posts: 47
Loc: Missouri USA
I would like to raise a question. In considering plagiarism, unless you know the topic really well, some research is in order. Stats need to be checked, spelling needs to be checked and so on. This leads one to use facts that are suggested by someone else and that could be Wikipedia for example. Is the use of facts gleaned from other sources considered plagiarism? I realize that word for word (cut and paste) usage is definitely plagiarism and is unacceptable. The paraphrasing of information, though, is harder to define. Authors who write about the Napoleonic War weren't there to witness the event and so one presumes that research into the works of others who were present serves as the basis for their treatise. Is that plagiarism? What should we accept as plagiarism then? I don't want to find my work being described as such and yet I would like to continue to write interesting quizzes that were factual and reliable. Please help me avoid this pitfall.


Edited by einsteinII (Thu Aug 16 2012 07:41 PM)

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#815777 - Thu Aug 16 2012 08:43 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: einsteinII]
kaddarsgirl Offline
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Registered: Wed Jun 27 2012
Posts: 1771
Loc: Ohio USA
In my personal experience through writing tons of papers for school, plagiarism is word for word copying, or almost word for word copying from one source of information without giving credit to the original source. An example would be copying a passage from a book and changing a few words but keeping the basic order and structure of the passage, without using the quote symbols and without naming the book in any way.

As I've be taught, common knowledge does not need to be cited. This would be something like a fact saying the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. This information could be found almost anywhere, and most people would know it without having to look it up. There are also only so many ways you can rephrase it. With such specific facts that can be found in multiple places it's practically impossible not to use someone else's phrasing. It would also be extremely impractical to name every possible source that has the information.

I don't know what the specific rules are on FunTrivia quizzes, but it is always better to cite any source if there is any doubt that your words are not completely your own. The best way, I find, to not plagiarize paragraphs or multiple sentences of someone else's words is to take note from their information, put it away for a time, and then come back to it later and make your own sentences to fit the notes that you made. This works best when you leave yourself enough time to not remember the original wording or sentence structure of the source. You can always copy down the website or book where you got the info to check after you write your own sentences. But as I said, it is ALWAYS better to cite your source than not if you have ANY doubt about the work you produce.


Edited by kaddarsgirl (Thu Aug 16 2012 08:48 PM)
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#815789 - Thu Aug 16 2012 09:46 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: kaddarsgirl]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 12905
Loc: Western Canada
kaddarsgirl has it right - we're not worried about you researching your facts. We know that our authors are not scholars doing original research on the topics of their quizzes.

What we don't want is copy and pasting from other websites, or books, or any other source. We don't want you using someone else's words, and passing them off as your own. This includes taking someone else's words, changing the order a little, and doing a little minor substituting of the odd word. "Your own words" means you take the facts that you have gathered from other sources, and tell them to us.

You are highly unlikely to get in trouble when you state a fact baldly, even if that exact same wording can be found elsewhere. "The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941" can only be said in so many ways, and we understand that. However, if you say "The Date of Infamy that launched an epic conflict with Japan took place here in the early morning hours of December 7, 1941. The tranquil waters of Pearl Harbor were forever disrupted by the tides of war." (word for word from the website http://www.pearlharboroahu.com/) you'll be in trouble - those are someone else's words, and there are a lot of different ways to phrase that.

At FT, we prefer that you use your own words whenever possible, rather than quoting your source material. We don't want to know what some contributor to wikipedia has to say about the subject, we want to hear what YOU have to say. If you use a direct quote, it should preferably be from someone that a person knowledgeable on the subject has heard about, and the wording should be interesting in some way. You can quote (citing properly, of course) Winston Churchill on the Second World War, or John Lennon on the Beatles, Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity. Please don't direct quote some random website just to avoid putting the information in your own words.

kaddarsgirl's advice on ways to avoid inadvertent plagiarism is also good. Take pen and paper notes, rather than copying the information on your computer- you are much less likely to take word for word this way. Use more than one source. Let a little time pass before writing up your notes. I also advise not worrying too much about your grammar and spelling on your first draft - just tell the story, the way you would tell it to a friend. You can clean it up later, before submission.

A lot of new authors plagiarize because they are unsure of their writing skills, and want a more professional appearance to their quiz. Remember though - it's your quiz and it needs to be in your words. Much better to have a simple quiz that is all yours than something that is not yours, and that you have to worry about getting caught at.

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#815790 - Thu Aug 16 2012 10:03 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: kaddarsgirl]
einsteinII Offline
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Registered: Fri Jul 20 2012
Posts: 47
Loc: Missouri USA
According to the copyright provisos given by Wikipedia, a note that content has been used satisfies their requirements. I append part of their copyright rules. "The licenses Wikipedia uses grant free access to our content in the same sense that free software is licensed freely. Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed if and only if the copied version is made available on the same terms to others and acknowledgment of the authors of the Wikipedia article used is included (a link back to the article is generally thought to satisfy the attribution requirement; see below for more details). Copied Wikipedia content will therefore remain free under appropriate license and can continue to be used by anyone subject to certain restrictions, most of which aim to ensure that freedom. This principle is known as copyleft in contrast to typical copyright licenses". I think it would be a good idea that we make this known to our authors so that as individuals, we can be sure to give appropriate credits, where due. I am sure that many internet sites have similar rules. I know, as an author of a published book with copyright having been assured, that books and scholarly articles are more stringent about the use of the material contained within than are public domain infosites. I made very sure of my sources in the publication and obtained written permission or puchased rights for any nonoriginal quotes or illustrations.

Thanks for the insights kaddarsgirl. I agree that citing a source is the correct thing to do.

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#815837 - Fri Aug 17 2012 05:25 AM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: einsteinII]
Snowman Offline
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Registered: Wed Oct 31 2007
Posts: 1611
Loc: London England UK            
That's fine for Wikipedia to say but we don't know the source of all of Wikipedia's content or know that it is entirely plagiarism-free. Copying plagiarised material, even with acknowledgment of the secondary source, is still plagiarism and we are open to that accusation if we allow word for word copying from other websites. That's why we ask for everything to be in the author's own words.

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#815850 - Fri Aug 17 2012 06:42 AM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: Snowman]
einsteinII Offline
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Registered: Fri Jul 20 2012
Posts: 47
Loc: Missouri USA
Well it seems a bit murky but as an new quiz author, I will try to take some of the advice here and apply it as best as I can. Thanks to all who contributed.

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#815859 - Fri Aug 17 2012 07:08 AM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: einsteinII]
LadyCaitriona Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Thu Feb 08 2001
Posts: 5760
Loc: Ottawa Ontario Canada         
I'd like to weigh in on a couple of points.

Going back to einsteinII's question:

Originally Posted By: einsteinII
Is the use of facts gleaned from other sources considered plagiarism? I realize that word for word (cut and paste) usage is definitely plagiarism and is unacceptable. The paraphrasing of information, though, is harder to define.


Strictly speaking, the answer is yes. I did a lot of research on what constitutes plagiarism when I was writing this quiz on intellectual theft. FunTrivia is slightly more relaxed than an academic paper, however--as agony pointed out, we don't expect all of our members to be perfect scholars--we are happy when authors have made an obvious attempt to understand the material they are researching and put it into their own words. That being said, I'm currently working on my first Animals quiz and I'm reading a lot of material that is quite new for me. I wrote a sentence recently that, while paraphrased, is still fairly close to the source material. Compare:

Originally Posted By: Wikipedia
Vulture is the name given to two groups of convergently evolved scavenging birds


Originally Posted By: LadyC
The word "vulture" is a generic term applied to two groups of scavenging birds that evolved convergently on different parts of the globe (Wikipedia)


By giving the in-text citation of "(Wikipedia)" I'm acknowledging that I took the information from their article: the lack of quotation marks shows that I have paraphrased, rather than copied the text directly.

I'd also like to give some advice about note-taking for research. When I'm taking my notes and I'm having trouble figuring out how to put something in my own words, I will cut/paste the passage I'm working on, but I'll make sure to put quotation marks around the passage and cite the source in my notes. That way, when I'm looking back over them later, I'll remember that I still need to re-write that passage or put in a quotation.
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#815883 - Fri Aug 17 2012 08:44 AM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: LadyCaitriona]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 12905
Loc: Western Canada
I'd like to really also stress - if you are confused about something specific, if there are one or two passages in your quiz where you're not quite sure if you've got it right, talk to an editor.

Questions posted here can get you useful information, but they tend to get a little confusing sometimes, as different people weigh in. A Direct Message sent to an editor in the category of your quiz will get you an answer from the person who is likely to edit that quiz. You can lay the whole thing out in as much detail is needed, and get a specific answer for your specific question.

We do not mind getting quiz writing questions from authors. That's what we're here for - to help you through the process of getting your quiz online. You're not wasting our time, so don't worry about that.

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#815906 - Fri Aug 17 2012 10:00 AM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: agony]
shuehorn Offline
Multiloquent

Registered: Tue Jul 04 2006
Posts: 3310
Loc: Lawrenceville Georgia USA     
Nice discussion. I love hearing everyone weigh in on the ins and outs of this.
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#815981 - Fri Aug 17 2012 09:06 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: shuehorn]
jmorrow Offline
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Registered: Wed Oct 08 2008
Posts: 1233
Loc: Singapore
I think it's also important to appreciate that there are two distinct issues at play here: copyright and plagiarism. One is a legal issue, while the other is more of an ethical one. Here at Fun Trivia, we are concerned about both.

So the fact that Wikipedia allows people to use its content is only part of the answer. You are still guilty of plagiarism if you pass off writing from a copyright-free or public domain source as your own work without attributing your source. Even then, the quoting and attribution of source material should be used sparingly in a quiz, if at all, for the reasons already explained by agony.

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#816013 - Fri Aug 17 2012 11:44 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: jmorrow]
skunkee Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Thu Oct 16 2003
Posts: 9860
Loc: Burlington Ontario Canada  
Quote:
Well it seems a bit murky but as an new quiz author, I will try to take some of the advice here and apply it as best as I can. Thanks to all who contributed.


While advice that you get from other players is often good, sometimes it is misinformed. So ultimately it's best to listen to the advice of the editors as they are more familiar with FunTrivia policy and are, ultimately, the ones who put quizzes online or send them back. agony, LadyCatriona and jmorrow are all editors and have given really solid advice.

As agony has pointed out, whatever Wikipedia's policy on copying from their site is, FunTrivia doesn't want it. We would much prefer that you write your quiz in your own words and don't just duplicate something that's already online somewhere else, even if it is properly cited.

Edited to add that Snowman is also an editor - sorry, didn't scroll far enough!


Edited by skunkee (Fri Aug 17 2012 11:47 PM)
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#816192 - Sat Aug 18 2012 04:30 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: skunkee]
bloomsby Offline
Moderator

Registered: Sun Apr 29 2001
Posts: 3917
Loc: Norwich England UK            
I agree. As far as Wikipedia's policy is concerned, there is a common misunderstanding here. Essentially, plagiarism consists of taking another person's or source's text (or image or music, etc.) and pretending it is your own or creating that impression. This applies equally to copyright materials and those in the public domain.

The point is that plagiarism is deception and is unethical. There may or not may also be legal issues regarding violation of copyright. However, the notion that if you are legally in the clear you can copy without further ado is completely inaccurate.


Editor, History and People.

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#816560 - Mon Aug 20 2012 01:54 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: bloomsby]
davejacobs Offline
Participant

Registered: Wed Jun 28 2006
Posts: 18
Loc: Southampton Hampshire UK     
Having read all the above and learned a lot, I feel that one aspect of the subject has been missed. That is that plagiarism is a crime when it is done for some sort of gain, which may be monetary or something else like pasing an exam. When the object is simply for other peoples amusement and entertainment without any gain involved, surely it is somewhat less serious?

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#816561 - Mon Aug 20 2012 02:04 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: davejacobs]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 12905
Loc: Western Canada
Well, FT won't be sending you off to jail.

We will be informing all editors that you have done this, so they can look out for it. Repeated offenses lead to termination of author privileges. It's not fair to other authors for repeat copiers to take up the large amounts of editor time that finding and documenting copying uses up.

Nobody is forced to write quizzes. If actually *writing* a quiz is too onerous, so that copying seems a good solution, it's perfectly fine just to skip the whole thing, and enjoy other aspects of the site instead.

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#816578 - Mon Aug 20 2012 02:52 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: bloomsby]
bloomsby Offline
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Registered: Sun Apr 29 2001
Posts: 3917
Loc: Norwich England UK            
Quote:
I feel that one aspect of the subject has been missed. That is that plagiarism is a crime when it is done for some sort of gain


No, the crime is not plagiarism: it is violation of copyright, whether done for gain or not. Obviously, if it is done for gain, the likelihood of the matter being pursued by the owner(s) of the copyright is greater.

As already said, it's a big mistake to confuse the two. Plagiarism is esssentially about deception, regardless of other issues.


Editor, History and People


PS. I have no wish to be tedious, but I think it is important that inaccurate definitions of plagiarism are corrected, as they can easily create misunderstandings and/or give inexperienced quiz authors a false sense of security.


Edited by bloomsby (Mon Aug 20 2012 06:26 PM)

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#816647 - Mon Aug 20 2012 06:39 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: bloomsby]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 12905
Loc: Western Canada
Yes - even if the owner of the copyright is standing right beside you, ready to send an affidavit to FT to assure us that you have permission to use his words, it would still be against our policy. Everything in your quiz that is not in your own words needs to be in quotation marks, with clear indication that you are not trying to pass it off as your own.

Incidentally, this is one reason that song lyrics and movie quotes must be in quotation marks, and have the title of the work somewhere in the question. So, even though you may not have mentioned the name of the person who wrote the lyric, anyone who wants to can find out that information in seconds. And it is abundantly clear that it wasn't you, because of the quotes, the wording of the question, etc.

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#816648 - Mon Aug 20 2012 06:45 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: agony]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 12905
Loc: Western Canada
And for anyone who is finding all of this confusing, or scary, or daunting, it's actually very simple.

Write your own quiz.

If you do your research, you can just tell us what you know about the subject, with a little scrap of paper maybe in front of you saying "June 17 1966, London" or whatever you need to keep the tiny details in mind. If you always do this, you will not get in trouble here for copying.

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#816898 - Tue Aug 21 2012 12:56 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: agony]
Midget40 Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Mon Oct 27 2008
Posts: 5063
Loc: Perth Western Australia       
Just my 2 cents worth - not on the plagiarism itself but on the tips on how to avoid it.

Jotting down my own notes and coming back a while later to write it up does not work for me.

I'm more likely to re-change what I've written back into how it was written before (ie the source). I have a good memory for things I have read and can unintentionally use sentences or phrases that are in my memory without realising they are not always mine!

I have to cut and paste information onto a document from whatever sources I'm using and then read each piece and then make sure that mine is completely different from any of them as I write it.

So just beware if you have the same type of memory that you may actually plagiarise without knowing it unless you take steps to prevent it.


Edited by Midget40 (Tue Aug 21 2012 12:56 PM)

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#816998 - Tue Aug 21 2012 07:26 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: Midget40]
reeshy Offline
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Registered: Tue Aug 11 2009
Posts: 741
Loc: Glasgow Scotland UK           
I tend to directly write my paragraph from the original source in a similar way, to ensure I'm actually paraphrasing and not copying verbatim.
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#817001 - Tue Aug 21 2012 08:36 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: reeshy]
agony Offline

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Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 12905
Loc: Western Canada
I have no problem with that from you two - you are both very experienced quiz writers, and comfortable with the written word.

However - and I am most definitely speaking with my editor hat on now - this could be dangerous for a new author who hasn't written anything but a shopping list since leaving school. Or a young author who goes to one of the many schools that allow copy/paste for schoolwork. Those who find writing hard work, and who are looking for a way to make it easier.

The vast majority of our "Me? But I didn't copy!" authors are those who rearrange the order of the clauses in a sentence, change "many" to "several" and think it's good. I'm very worried that they will take what you say to mean that this is OK. I know that's not what you're saying, but it could be what they hear.

So I'm going to be quite specific - this is how I check for plagiarism in a quiz: if the wording of a passage arouses my suspicions, I'll check. If I find more than four words in a row identical to a website, I'll look into it further. This doesn't mean that you'll be in trouble for that, just that it's a red flag that merits further checking. If I then find that it's something very basic - "bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941" - and nothing else raises suspicions, no problem. If it's something less basic "The tranquil waters of Pearl Harbor", say, and there are more than two of these in the quiz, especially from the same website, it's going back to you with a warning. And I'm probably the softest editor on this issue here.

If you as a newish author, or one with problems with this in the past, want to take a look at your source material after you have written your quiz, just to check for inadvertent copying, be my guest. Don't write your quiz with your source in front of you though, unless you are very sure what you are doing - the chances are very high that it will not work out well.

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#817002 - Tue Aug 21 2012 08:41 PM Re: Plagiarism question..... [Re: agony]
reeshy Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Tue Aug 11 2009
Posts: 741
Loc: Glasgow Scotland UK           
Fair enough advice for the majority of authors. smile Hopefully no one gets the wrong idea from my and Midget's posts.
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