Plagiarism: How to avoid it

Students often don’t recognize their plagiarism. “Sure,” they say, “if you buy a paper off the Internet, that’s plagiarism. I don’t do that.” However, you don’t have to buy a paper to plagiarize. Plagiarism can occur in just a few words. This resource describes strategies to acknowledge the sources you are using.  

 

What Is Plagiarism? 

Plagiarism is the presentation of the words or ideas of another person as your own. It is a form of academic dishonesty. The college’s policy on plagiarism describes the penalties for plagiarism which range from failure on an assignment to expulsion from the college.   

Plagiarism includes the following: 

  • using someone else’s exact words and not acknowledging that the words aren’t your own 
  • paraphrasing someone else’s ideas without saying where you got those ideas 
  • getting someone else to write a paper or parts of a paper for you 

Instructors have little difficulty recognizing most forms of plagiarism. They recognize the literature in their fields and can distinguish student writing patterns and changes in writing style within a piece of writing.  

At Douglas College, plagiarism is defined in the Academic Integrity Policy

 

How Can You Avoid Plagiarism when Using Sources? 

1. Acknowledge your source 

Whether you quote someone else’s words or whether you restate their ideas in your own words, you need to acknowledge, or cite, your source. Citing a source involves identifying the author, the title of the work, and where and when it was published.  

Several styles have been developed for citing sources in academic work. These include APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Languages Association) and Chicago Style. The library, the bookstore and the Learning Centre all have guidelines for using these various styles. If you’re not sure which style is preferred in a course, ask your instructor.


2. Show which words you have quoted from a source.

Short quotes are marked with quotation marks:

Example of short quotes

Long quotes are done in block format instead of using quotation marks. If your quote is more than about 40 words long (check your style manual for specifics), it needs to be treated as a block quote. Block quotes do not use quotation marks. Instead, they are indented:

Example of long quote

As you can see, the author, year of publication, and page number are mentioned in the text of the paper. At the end of the paper, as at the end of this handout, the source is documented more fully.  

3. Paraphrase the ideas of others and cite the source 

Paraphrasing is restating the ideas of another person in your own words. It’s important when you paraphrase that you restate the ideas completely in your own words. Making only minor changes from the original is not paraphrasing.  

Instructors tend to prefer paraphrasing over quoting because it shows them that you really understand what the author wrote. When you paraphrase, like when you quote, you need to show the source of the information or ideas.   

4. When citation in not needed 

You do not need to cite a source for information which is commonly accepted knowledge. For example, you would not need to cite a source for the fact that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.  That is a widely accepted fact.   

When you are unsure about whether to cite a source or not, ask yourself whether specialists in the subject might want to check your source. If you think they might, cite the source. If you are not sure, you can either ask your instructor or cite the source anyway. It is better to over-cite than under-cite.

 

What Kind of Help is Appropriate from Others? 

When you do a written assignment for college, it is always a good idea to get another person to read your work and give you feedback. Awareness of how your writing affects a reader is valuable information in the editing process. Such feedback can help you to improve your work. 

However, some students get too much help from others. If another person revises your work by rewriting the paper or parts of the paper for you, that is plagiarism. If another person gives you ideas to put in a paper, that is plagiarism. If another person tells you what words to use, that, too, is plagiarism. Often this kind of help is not intended in a bad way. You need help and your friend gives it to you. However, to avoid plagiarism, you should give guidance to your friend about what kind of help is acceptable, as listed below:  

  • describing the effect of your writing on the reader 
  • pointing out where your ideas are clear and not clear 
  • identifying whether your evidence is sufficient to prove your argument 
  • highlighting where there are word choice, grammar, spelling or punctuation errors in your work, without correcting the errors themselves

This feedback on your work will enable you to improve your writing, but your writing will remain your own because you will be the one deciding how to solve the problems your friend identifies.

 

Conclusion

Plagiarism can be tempting, particularly if you are not confident about your own writing skills. However, you need to be careful not to plagiarize in your written work because it can lead to serious trouble in your academic career. Citing sources appropriately, showing clearly what you are quoting or paraphrasing, and limiting the kinds of help others give you with your writing are key to avoiding plagiarism.  

 

Source of quotes in this handout: Bettelheim, B. (1989). The uses of enchantment. New York: Random House.

Paraphrasing Without Plagiarizing

This resource explains the differences between proper and improper paraphrasing and shows you the steps to paraphrase a complicated quotation using APA style.


When writing essays, it is important to support your argument with evidence from authoritative sources. Using direct quotations is only one way to integrate sources into your writing. Paraphrasing is another way of using sources to support the points you are making in essays. However, paraphrasing has the danger of remaining too close to the wording in the original source so that it results in plagiarism.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is using your own words to tell the reader what another author said while giving that author credit. It is important to remember that paraphrased information still requires citations. If you’ve ever said something like, “Jane told me she was having a party on Friday,” then you have already used paraphrasing because you are reporting without the exact words what somebody else has said.

Why is paraphrasing important?

Paraphrasing helps you accomplish a few things:

  1. It is (usually) shorter than the original quotation
  2. It gives you control over the content, allowing you to focus only on the part of the original statement that you feel is relevant to your support
  3. It demonstrates to the reader (your instructor) that you understand what you have read
  4. It is the preferred approach to using sources in APA papers

Examples

Original text

“Rapunzel had beautiful long hair that shone like gold. When she heard the voice of the witch she would undo the fastening of the upper window, unbind the plaits of her hair, and let it down twenty ells below, and the witch would climb up by it.”

Grimm, J. and Grimm, W. (1995). Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Longmeadow Press, p. 94. 

 

Improper Paraphasing

According to Grimm, when Rapunzel heard the voice of the witch she would undo the fastening of the upper window, unbind the plaits of her hair, and let it down twenty ells below, and the witch would climb up by it (1995, p. 94). 

↑ This sentence is plagiarized because it uses the exact words as the original source without placing them in quotation brackets. The underlined text shows what was copied.

 

According to Grimm, when Rapunzel heard the witch, she undid the fastening of the window, unbound the plaits of her beautiful long hair that shone like gold, and let it down and the witch would climb up it (1995, p. 94).  

↑ Although this sentence is not directly copy and pasted out of the book, it is still plagiarized. There are many exact phrases, or very similar wording, from the original source. Even though these phrases are in a different order or missing a word here and there, the sentence is still too close to the original.

 

Rapunzel had lovely long hair that was blonde. When she heard the voice of the witch she would open the fastening of the top window, undo the braid, and let it down many feet below, and the witch would climb up by it (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).

↑ Although some of the key words were changed, it is still plagiarized because much of the wording and order of ideas remain the same.

 

Rapunzel’s long blonde hair was used as a rope ladder so she and the witch could get in and out of the tower (Grimm, 1995).

↑ While this sentence does not use the same words as the original, it is not properly paraphrased because it changes the meaning of the original text by claiming Rapunzel also used her own hair to come and go to the tower.  It is very important to avoid changing or twisting the meaning of the original text to make it say what you want it to.

 

Proper paraphrasing

According to Grimm, Rapunzel would open the window and drop her hair for the witch to climb up into the tower (1995, p. 94).

↑ This paraphrase is not plagiarism because the author has used her own words to convey the meaning of the original text in a more concise way. As you can see, “undo the fastening of the upper window” was changed to “open the window,” and “unbind the plaits of her hair, and let it down” was changed to “drop her hair.” The phrase “for the witch to climb up into the tower” is similar to “and the witch would climb up by it,” but the wording is different.

The witch used Rapunzel’s hair to climb up into the tower (Grimm, 1995, p. 94). 

↑ This sentence is also properly paraphrased. The action of Rapunzel undoing her braid and letting down her hair has been removed. The emphasis of this sentence is the witch climbing the tower.

Rapunzel would obey the witch and drop her long blonde hair out the window so the witch could climb up into the tower (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).

↑ This sentence is properly paraphrased. The emphasis of this sentence is on Rapunzel’s actions.


How to Paraphrase

Technique #1 – Finding the Main Idea

Sometimes the main idea is clear and easy to state in your own words; however, other times the main idea is complicated and multiple techniques need to be used together to paraphrase effectively.  Below are two steps you can follow to strip a complicated sentence down to its basic meaning:

1. Cross out information in the original that is not crucial to the key idea:

example of how strip a complicated sentence down to its basic meaning

This is still plagiarized if you stop here because it uses the original wording!

 

2. Highlight the key words to the main idea, and use those to form a new sentence:

Edited version from above:

Rapunzel had long blond hair. When she heard the witch she would open the window and let her hair down, and the witch would climb up(Grimm, 1995, p. 94).

Paraphrase:

Rapunzel had long hair. She let her hair down, and the witch would climb up (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).

This is easier to understand – BUT – it is NOT a direct quote because the wording has changed, but it is NOT a proper paraphrase because the wording is still too similar. So, how else could I say that?

These two examples show ways the original sentence can be paraphrased properly, depending on which focus you want the paraphrase to have.

Focus on Rapunzel:      Rapunzel let the witch climb her long hair to get into the tower (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).
Focus on the Witch:      The witch got into the tower by climbing Rapunzel’s long hair (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).


Technique #2 – Using Different Words

This technique is only a partial step towards an acceptable paraphrase. It is important to remember that simply replacing the words with synonyms (words that are different but have the same meaning) is still considered plagiarism.

Rapunzel had beautiful long blonde hair. When she heard the voice of the witch she would open the top window, undo the braid of her hair, and let it down about 10 meters below, and the witch would climb up by it (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).

The reason that using synonyms to change some of the key words is not enough for a proper paraphrase is that many of the words, the sentence structure, and the order of ideas are still very similar to the original. Saying something in your own words requires more than changing some of the key words.


Technique #3 – Changing the Order of Ideas

In addition to keeping only the main idea and changing some of the words (as in Techniques #1 and #2 above), you can also move parts of the sentence around:

When Rapunzel heard the voice of the witch, she would open the top window, undo the braid of her beautiful, long blonde hair, and let it down about 10 meters below, and the witch would climb up by it (Grimm, 1995, p. 94).

BUT – this still is TOO CLOSE to the original, so another step is needed:

When Rapunzel heard the witch, she would let down her long, lovely hair out the window so that the witch could climb the 10 meters up to the room (Grimm, 1995, p.94).

Now I have a complete paraphrase!


Technique #4 – Memory Notes

This technique is effective if you have trouble using your own words. Take a few brief notes on a separate piece of paper, and then cover the original so you can’t see it. Then, using only your notes, recreate the meaning from memory. It’s crucial, of course, to understand the original text first.

           1. List several of the key words on another piece of paper, like this:

Rapunzel  = long blonde hair

hears witch

opens window

lets hair down

20 ells - ???

witch climbs up  

2. Cover up the original and make a new sentence from your list of key words: 

When she heard the witch, Rapunzel would open the window and let down her long blond hair so the witch could climb up (Grimm, 1995, p.94).

3. Compare your paraphrase to the original to check that your paraphrase is not “too close” to the original wording. Looks like this one is a proper paraphrase!

Practice Identifying Proper Paraphrasing

Mark each sentence with a P for plagiarized and OK if it is properly paraphrased.

Original Source: 

English has more than 500 000 words, probably more than any other language. This exceptional vocabulary and the power and range of expression that accompany it derive from its special mix of word sources. Unlike many other languages, English has borrowed a large number of words.

Fowler, H., Aaron, J., & McArthur, M. (2008),The Little, Brown Handbook (5th Canadian ed.). Pearson Longman. p. 514.

 

1. English has an exceptional vocabulary of over half a million words, because unlike many languages, English has borrowed a large number of words. This means English has more power and range of expression (Fowler et al., 2008, p. 514). 

2. The English language has over half a million words, because it has used many words from other languages. This huge vocabulary gives English a larger variety of descriptive words than most other languages (Fowler et al., 2008, p. 514). 

3. The exceptional vocabulary and the power and range of expression of the English language are from its vocabulary of more than 500,000 words, probably more than any other language. English is unique, because it has borrowed a large number of words from its special mix of word sources (Fowler et al., 2008, p. 514). 

4. English has more words than almost any other language, because it borrowed many of them from different source languages (Fowler et al., 2008, p. 514). 

5. English has taken many words from other languages and should not consider its large vocabulary as English words, because they belong to other languages (Fowler, 2008, p. 514). 

Original Source: 

Henry I’s success lay upon two foundations. As a vigorous war-leader he was able to contain the threat from Denmark to the north of his duchy, and in 933 to inflict a major defeat upon the Magyars, who had menaced the whole of eastern Germany and many points further west since their destruction of the Moravian kingdom in 906. The scale of the threat made the dukes his far from unwilling partners, and it brought other rulers, Wenceslaus of Bohemia chief among them, under his overlordship. Henry’s other asset lay in the comparatively recent rise of his family, the Liudolfings; he had been duke of Saxony only from 912, by marriage into the ducal house.

Holmes, G. (Ed.). (1995),The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 149.

 

6. Henry I was successful for two reasons: he defeated his military enemies and married into the rank of duke (Holmes, 1995, p.149). 

7. Henry I’s success was based on two foundations of being a vigorous war-leader against the threat from Denmark and the Magyars, and the recent rise of his family by marriage into the ducal house (Holmes, 1995, p.149). 

8. Henry I was a successful war-leader who was braver than many other dukes, because he was able to defeat the Magyars when the other dukes were unwilling to help him. Also, he married into the ducal house in 912 (Holmes, 1995, p.149). 

9. Having other rulers under his overlordship helped Henry I inflict a major defeat on the Magyars. His family, the Liudolfings, obtained a duchy by marriage and Henry I was able to contain the threat from the northern neighbor of Denmark (Holmes, 1995, p.149).

  1. P – This sample is plagiarized, because it uses words and phrases directly from the original text.
  2. OK – This sample is okay, because the information has been paraphrased.
  3. P – The order of information has been changed; however, this sample is still plagiarizing the words and phrases from the original.
  4. OK - This sample is okay, because the information has been paraphrased.
  5. P – This sample says something totally different than what the author intended. Saying that another person said something different than they did is misrepresenting the original author’s work. It is important to keep the core meaning of the original in the paraphrase the same as what the original author intended. Twisting the meaning around is not acceptable.
  6. OK – This sample is okay, because the information has been paraphrased.
  7. P – This sample is plagiarized, because it uses words and phrases directly from the original text.
  8. P - This sample uses words and phrases directly from the original text, BUT it also says something different from the original meaning. The original text states that the large threat made them “less than unwilling” which means they were willing to partner with Henry I. You must keep the core meaning of the original in the paraphrase the same as what the original author intended.
  9. P – This sample is plagiarized, because it uses words and phrases directly from the original text.

Building Paragraphs around Quotations 

Academic paragraphs need support or evidence to back up the main points being made. One kind of support used frequently in academic papers is the quotation.  This resource shows you the seven steps needed to build a paragraph around a quotation.   

A quotation usually needs to appear somewhere in the middle of a paragraph, sandwiched between an introduction and an explanation.  Look at the following example:

example paragraph built around quotation

The following seven steps provide you with one way to use quotations effectively.  It is important to note that there are other ways to use quotations. 

 

 

1. Make Your Point (Topic Sentence) 

Make a main point briefly. 

One factor which influences how well students do in school is parent involvement.

The purpose is to tell the reader what you will show in the paragraph.  It prepares the reader for what is coming. You should not do any of the work of explaining or of giving evidence or reporting information in the first sentence of a paragraph.  For this reason, the first sentence of the paragraph should be brief.

 

2. Explain the Context

Provide a context or further explanation for your point.

Parents’ can be involved in their children’s schools in many ways such as taking children to school, having regular contact with teachers, and monitoring/helping with homework. Research indicates that parental involvement, regardless of a student’s background, is a powerful indicator of student success.

The sentences after the topic sentence should be used to help the reader understand more about your point, or to prepare the reader for the evidence (the quotation).  This sentence can be used to:

  • give background information 
  • explain the significance of your point 
  • define or highlight the meaning of your point 

 

3. Provide an Author Lead-in

Introduce the author of the quotation.

As Moss and Rutledge (1991) pointed out in an analysis of Ontario schools …

 

Give a phrase or sentence that signals the authorship of the quotation.

The author reported “…”
Smith claimed “…”
The article reported “…”
Jones and Lee suggested “…”

 

4.Insert the Quotation 

Use only enough of the quotation to make your point.

. . . although family background is indirectly linked to how students do in schools, “It is not the home that is the cause of some children’s lack of success in school, but rather it is, in substantial part, the lack of connection between home and school” (pp.141).

Quotations need to quickly and clearly support your point:

  • The reader should not be forced to read through long quotations, wondering what part of the quotation is relevant.
  • Providing needed context and explanation is your job as writer. Do not expect your quotation to provide the context and explanation for you.

 

5. Document the Source

Document the quotation using in-text citation.

example of in text citation

This means providing author and page number either in brackets after the information or in a footnote at the bottom of the page. The example above uses the APA style of documenting because it also includes the date after the author. Different departments at the college require different approaches to documenting, and you need to find out which format is required by your instructor. The most popular formats are APA, MLA, and Chicago style. The Library and the Learning Centre both have handouts and manuals on how to use each of these styles of documenting.

 

6. Interpret, Explain, Discuss

Explain how the quotation shows the point that you made in your first sentence of the paragraph.

Students often think that the quotation speaks for itself. However, you want your reader to interpret the quote the same way you intend by stating the relationship between the evidence (the quotation) and the point you are making in the paragraph.

Consider the following approaches to add explanation to your quotation:

  • You can focus the reader’s attention on an idea or wording in the quotation that is relevant to your discussion, and then explain how that wording shows your point. Notice how the specific wording “lack of connection” is explained in the example below.
  • You can explain the implications or relationships to other points you are making in the paper or how the quotation demonstrates the overall point you are making in the paragraph.

This “lack of connection” refers to parents who do not participate in the schooling experience of their children, so very little that happens at home between parent and child has anything to do with what happens at school. This lack of involvement by parents in the schooling of children can happen to any student, regardless of socioeconomic background. It helps explain why students from low income or minority backgrounds can, with parent involvement, have success at school. In the same way it shows that students even from wealthy families also need parental involvement in the school experience of the child.

7. Finish with a Conclusion

Finish the discussion of the quotation with strong, energetic wording that connects back to your topic sentence and signals a finish to the paragraph.

The implication is that parents who find more ways to be involved in their children’s schooling will increase the chances of their children succeeding at school.

What not to do:

In most papers, you should not string together a patchwork of quotations, such as the writer did in the example below: 

Kimmel (1990) pointed out that, "Socioeconomic status, ethnic origin, intelligence, gender, and race tend to operate in complex . . . ways to limit the range of occupations open to an individual" (p. 293). He explained that "educational background, contacts with a particular occupation through one's ethnic or religious groups and family members, and discrimination operate for or against an individual's movement into an occupation" (p. 293). He concluded that "the boundaries thus created are often unfair to particular groups of people (notably African Americans, Hispanics, and the poor)" (p. 294).

The problem in the above example is that a patchwork of quotations only reports information, instead of showing how you as the writer can make a point and then support it with evidence. This means that most of your paragraphs should be your own analysis or explanation backed up by supporting evidence. One exception is in research reports where the “literature survey” section quickly summarizes the range of relevant studies done on a given topic (such as in a psychology research report). However, these summaries rarely use direct quotation.

Introducing Quotations Using Reporting Words

This resource describes several ways to introduce the evidence you are using in your writing.

When you are integrating evidence in your writing, you can use reporting words to provide additional information about how you are using this evidence in your argument. When you are introducing another writer’s ideas, you must be careful to represent the point of view. It is safe to use neutral words, but you show your readers that you understand your source more if you use other more meaningful words.

When introducing an author’s point, it is safe to introduce a quotation something like this:

Suzuki (2005) wrote, “scientists don’t receive much training in communicating their work.”

Suzuki (2005) pointed out that “scientists don’t receive much training in communicating their work.”

Source: Suzuki, D. (2005, March 9). Science Education an Ongoing Process. The Other Press, p. 11. Permission to adapt granted from the David Suzuki Foundation.

 

While you are reading and taking notes of ideas that you can quote, it is important to notice that the context of the article gives clues about the writer’s attitude and point of view. For example, is the author neutral? Suggesting something? Questioning? Arguing or agreeing? Making a proposal?

Here are some examples of words that can be used in academic writing to introduce another writer’s exact words or your paraphrase of their ideas.

acknowledge

caution

endorse

point out

suggest

admit

challenge

explain

speculate

wonder

propose

summarize

agree

claim

insist

regret

suppose

believe

describe

note

argue

comment

lament

report

think

assert

declare

maintain

say

warn

Working with Reporting Words 

There are several ways to get used to working with reporting words. Keep your own lists of words you would like to use in your writing. 

Sorting reporting words

To help yourself understand and remember these words, put the words into groups that make sense to you (that is, words with similar meaning).

Finding reporting words

Now that you are aware of how reporting words function, try to see how other authors are using them.

When you read, watch for new reporting words. If you are unsure of their meaning, try to guess the attitude of the writer from the context, check a good dictionary and/or ask your tutor.


Practice Choosing Reporting Words 

For each question below, the first sentence or group of sentences is taken from David Suzuki’s article titled “Science Education: An Ongoing Process.” The second sentence quotes or paraphrases Suzuki’s words. Read Suzuki’s words and think about his point of view, and choose one or more words that you think would work to introduce the ideas in the reported version.

  1. Suzuki: “Am I wasting my time? Good question.” 

    Report: In “Science Education an Ongoing Process,” Suzuki (2005) __________ whether he has been wasting his time writing articles about science. 

  2. Suzuki: “I spent the first half of my life working as a scientist. But, as I came to recognize the vast and complicated array of social and ethical issues emerging from new scientific and technological advances, I decided to step back, examine these issues from a broader perspective and help bring them to the public’s attention.” 

    Report: The turning point in Suzuki’s (2005) career came when he ____________to examine the puzzling social and ethical scientific issues and then help the general public understand them.

  3. . Suzuki: “I believed that, by informing people about issues such as cloning, organ transplants, genetic engineering, and environmental pollution as they arose, it would not only increase people’s understanding of the specific issues, but also whet their appetites to learn more about science in general and how it affects their lives. In the end, they would have better information from which to make choices and decisions.” 

    Report: He  _______________ that the general public would make choices and decisions using their new scientific knowledge (Suzuki, 2005).

  4. Suzuki: “It’s a pretty basic assumption, but one that proved difficult to test and measure because so many variables are involved.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005)  __________________ that his goal was “difficult to test and measure because so many variables are involved” (p. 11).

  5. Suzuki: “However, a new analysis of 200 studies from 40 countries presented recently at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has found that, regardless of someone’s age, nationality or education, the more they know about science, the more favorably they will view science in general.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005) __________________ that research on 200 studies from 40 countries __________________ that there is a correlation – the people who know more about science will view science more favorably.

  6. Suzuki: “I often find myself being interviewed by members of the media and realizing that they haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. It can be frustrating, but I can’t really blame individual journalists.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005) ______________ that he can’t criticize individual journalists for not understanding everything he is talking about.

  7. Suzuki: “Compounding the problem is the fact that scientists don’t receive much training in communicating their work and what it means to the average person.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005) _____________ that scientists aren’t trained very much in explaining how their scientific work relates to the general public.

  8. Suzuki: “Plus, while there may be a shortage of scientists with good communication skills, there’s no shortage of well-financed people with vested interests in certain areas who have the time and money to ensure their message is heard – regardless of its scientific accuracy.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005) ____________ that there are many well-funded stakeholders who make sure their particular message is given to the public even though it may not be scientifically accurate.

  9. Suzuki: “An unfortunate result of this is a general confusion about scientific issues such as climate change or stem cell research. The public ends up getting so many mixed messages that people don’t know what to believe. When that happens, trust and respect for science in general declines.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005)  _____________ that the general public’s trust and respect for science weakens when it gets conflicting information and doesn’t know what to believe.

  10. Suzuki: “Of course, that is not to say that we should take the results of every new study as gospel – quite the opposite. In fact, having a good understanding of science in general will help people realize that the discipline proceeds incrementally and that it measures only small bits of the world at a time. There are inherent weaknesses in such a system, but it can be a very powerful tool. In fact, science and technology are arguably the most powerful forces shaping society today.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005) ____________ that “having a good understanding of science in general will help people realize that the discipline proceeds incrementally and that it measures only small bits of the world at a time” (p. 11).

  11. Suzuki: “It’s good to know that I haven’t been wasting my time. But it’s also a bit daunting to consider how much work we still have to do.” 

    Report: Suzuki (2005) _____________ that he has spent his time well, but also seems disheartened about the challenges of disseminating scientific information.

Possible answers 

(Here are possible answers. Yours will vary.)

  1. questioned
  2. proposed
  3. believed, supposed
  4. admitted, acknowledged
  5. reported, pointed out
  6. admitted, acknowledged
  7. claimed, believed, noted
  8. lamented, cautioned
  9. argued, asserted
  10. maintained, insisted
  11. concluded

Creating an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a bibliography that provides descriptive and/or evaluative comments after each citation. An “annotation” can explain, critique, and link the sources listed in the bibliography, with the length of the annotation depending on assignment instructions and source contents.
 

The Three Types of Annotated Bibliographies

Descriptive

A descriptive annotated bibliography provides a summary of the source’s main points and an outline of how it came to those points.

The short paragraph provided by Harubang Antiques provides pertinent information about the history of the Korean amulet key-holder. It explains the accessory as a happiness charm and gives vivid details as well as a photo of an amulet. It also provides a short description of how the amulet was used and how those purposes later changed.

Analytical

An analytical or critical bibliography provides a critique of the source’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the author’s authority in the specific field and how the source might relate to your own essay.

This website provides no references as to how the information about the Korean amulet Key-Holder was gathered. Although research available on the amulet is very limited, this site does provide a phone number where those interested can question Harubang Antique’s information. The lack of research on the amulet makes this site an essential component of this paper because of its short but detailed descriptions of the amulet’s various uses.

Combination 

A combination annotated bibliography is the most common annotated bibliography. As with the descriptive annotation, it describes the source, but it also critiques the contents of the source similarly to an analytical annotation.

The short paragraph provided by Harubang Antiques provides information about the history of the Korean Amulet Key-Holder that few resources found in research engines provide. Although it explains the accessory as a happiness charm, Harubang Antiques may not be the most credible source available. Harubang seems to be a reputable antiques dealer, but their information is not cited.

 

Source for example (in APA style): Harubang Antiques. (2015). A very rare and fine set of amulet, key-holder. Retrieved from www.trocadero.com/harubang/items/684153/item684153.html

Preparing to Write the Annotation

To begin preparing an annotated bibliography, find the main points of your source.

How to identify the main argument(s) of the source:

  • Check the introduction, conclusion, table of contents and abstract.
  • Look for repeating ideas or terms. Look for sections, headings and subheadings or discussion sections in the source and think about the main idea of each section.

Once you have found the main arguments of your source, ask yourself questions to prepare to write your annotated bibliography:

  • Is the author’s background related to the topic of the writing assignment?
  • Is the chosen resource reliable and relevant?
  • What are the resource’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • Is the resource somehow connected to another resource in the bibliography, and how does this source differ from or compare to the other resources?
  • What is your reaction to the resource?

After reading or skimming through your resource for its main points, read through the following section to see if you have what an annotated bibliography needs.

 

Writing Your Annotation

Depending on your assignment instructions, you can be writing a descriptive, analytical or combination annotated bibliography, so make sure you include what is necessary for your assignment. Every annotated bibliography needs to be accompanied by a complete bibliographic citation based on the style asked for in your assignment instructions.


Depending on the type of annotated bibliography, it may include:

  • a third person point of view perspective (E.g., not “I” or “you”)
  • the author’s background, which reflects his/her authority on the subject he/she writes about
  • any biases or weaknesses, as well as any strengths
  • the intended audience
  • your evaluation of the source and why/how it is relevant or useful in your writing assignment

 

Formatting an Annotated Bibliography

Your annotation will depend on the style of citation your professor asks for, e.g.: MLA, APA, or Chicago style. Remember, an annotated bibliography is also double spaced like the citation.  

How to make Hanging Indents:

A “Hanging Indent” is when the first line begins at the left margin but subsequent lines are indented towards the right. To automatically format hanging indents using Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  • Highlight the part of your writing that needs to be indented
  • Right click in Microsoft Word, and choose “Paragraph”
  • In the “Paragraph” box that appears, look for “Special” under “Indentation,” and choose “hanging" 

This should indent the highlighted portion of your writing. 

Consult your style guide 

Every style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) has a specific format required for the annotated bibliography. For example, APA requires the list to be titled "References" while MLA uses "Works Cited."  

For more detailed information on how to format the annotated bibliography, consult the appropriate style guide (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago). Your best resource for more information about these formats in the reference librarian in the college library.

What Is a Summary?

A summary is a shortened or condensed version of a reading.  In a summary, you include only the most important concepts or ideas, and you leave out the less important ideas, examples, and details.  However, in most cases, a summary is written as one or more paragraphs that make the main points clear to someone who has not read the chapter, brochure, book, or article that you are summarizing. 

What do instructors want to see in a summary?

Accuracy: Did you report the author’s ideas accurately?

Completeness: Did you include all the key points or ideas?

Emphasis: Did you give the same level of importance that the author did to the ideas?

Readability: Did you write it in an easy-to-understand paragraph form?

Your Own Words: Did you mostly use your own words, using quotation marks to mark the places where you used the author’s exact wording?
 

Reading for a Summary

To write a good summary, you need to understand the reading. Take time to read the original text carefully so that you can pull out the main ideas. If you are having trouble with the reading, the best way to get a better understanding is to talk to other students, to the teacher, or to a tutor about the ideas in the reading. Especially try to identify the following:

The thesis or primary message of the reading

This often can be found near the beginning and/or near the end of the reading. It is a good idea to circle it. If you cannot find an exact statement of the author’s central message, you should write in your own words the primary message that you think the author is making in the reading.

The sections into which the reading can be divided

Identify the sections or divisions that the author used to organize the reading. This is like making an outline of the reading. If you’re lucky, the reading will already have headings and subheadings to show these sections. If there are no headings, you should try to create your own headings in the margins of the reading to show yourself the different sections into which the reading can be organized.

The support used to back up the author’s key points

Take note of what the author uses to back up her/his points. Does the author use examples, statistics, arguments, reasons, and expert opinion? It is useful to use a pen, pencil, and/or highlighter to mark up the original text.  Making a visual map of the article or text’s development helps you prepare to write your summary. For example, circle or draw a box around the main point of a paragraph, draw lines connecting it to the most important supporting points in the paragraph, or write numbers next to the supporting points.

visual map connecting main and supporting points

Creating an Outline

The job of summarizing becomes much easier if you create an outline of the reading. An outline will not only give you a writing plan to follow as you write your summary, it will also help you avoid copying too much of the wording from the reading. Because the summary needs to be in your own words, you should cover up the reading or put it away, and then write the summary only looking at the outline. Use the headings and your notes and markings on the reading to help you create the outline. An example is included in a section below.

  • At the top of the outline, write the thesis or main message the author is making
  • Next, make an outline of the main ideas and any supporting ideas you want to include in the summary.

Avoid Plagiarism

You need to use your own wording in any summary that you write. The best way to help you avoid copying the author’s wording is to develop a system that you use consistently to remind yourself when you are using your own wording (paraphrasing) and when you are copying the author’s wording. Whether you are creating the outline of the reading, taking any notes on the reading, or writing the summary, make sure that you clearly indicate when you are copying the author’s exact words and when you are using your own words. The traditional way to identify the author’s wording is to use quotation marks " " around the author’s wording. You could also try other strategies like highlighting or underlining the author’s words. Whichever coding system you use, it is important that you can easily tell the difference between your own wording and the author’s wording.

Tips for What to Leave Out

  • Repetition of similar ideas. Authors often restate the same ideas using different words.
  • Most detailed support, such as examples, anecdotes, descriptions, statistics, and dialogue.
  • Direct quotes (unless there is no other way to give the information)
  • Digressions (ideas that do not seem directly related to the author’s main points)
  • Jokes and figures of speech
  • Your own opinions or comments about the article or author

Tips for Writing a Summary

  • In the first sentence, identify the author, the title and the author’s thesis (or main point).
  • Then, report the main points that the author uses to support their thesis, one section at a time.
  • Write in paragraph form, including clear transition words between major points.
  • Use your own words.
  • Do not include your personal opinions and interpretations.
  • Usually organize the ideas in the same order used in the original.

 

 

Two Kinds of Summaries

There are two kinds of summaries: one where you mention the author several times throughout the summary and one where the author is only mentioned in brackets at the end of the summary. You need to find out from your instructor which kind is expected. Examples of these two types of summaries are included below:

1) Author included

The author’s name and the title of the article are noted in the first sentence. Throughout the summary, the author is mentioned several times to let the reader know you are still summarizing. These references are bolded below to help you see them better. Also, please note that this is not the complete summary; it is only several lines of a summary to show what it would look like with references to the author:

 

In the article “Social and Economic Change in New France,” Smith examines the positive impact of the fur trade and the development of Native trade alliances on the social climate and the economy of New France ... Smith suggests that the Metis played an integral role in the development of a stable economy ... According to Smith, the role of Native women in particular is largely ignored in history.

 

2) Author not included

The author’s name does not appear in the following summary, neither in the first sentence nor throughout the summary. Instead, a citation is used at the end of the paragraph to identify and give credit to the author of the reading. Notice that this summary has the same information as in the previous box, but without the references to the author.

 

The success of the fur trade and the establishment of Native trade alliances positively affected the social and economic development of New France. . . . The Metis were largely responsible for the strengthening of New France’s economy. . . . Even though Metis women were greatly involved with the fur trade, their point of view is largely ignored in most historical accounts (Smith 106).*

 

* This reference to the article is in MLA style. Because styles for identifying sources vary, you should ask your instructor which style to use for the summary you are writing.

Model Summary

An example of a summary is provided on the following pages to show you how a reading can be marked up, outlined, and summarized. Ask yourself the following questions to help you notice how this example follows the suggestions made in this handout:

  1. What different kinds of notations does the student use to mark up the reading? How do the notations help uncover the meaning and main points of the reading?
  2. How closely does the outline follow the notations made on the reading?
  3. What does the student who created this outline/summary do to show exact wording that she copied?
  4. In the summary, what method is used to make reference to the author (Suzuki)?
  5. What are some of the differences between the outline and the summary? Why is the summary more useful than the outline to show the main ideas in the Suzuki article?
  6. Find some examples of how the student uses her own wording to paraphrase Suzuki’s ideas. Do you think the student plagiarizes anywhere in her summary?

Do you think the summary matches each of the summary criteria listed on the first page of this handout?

 
Transporting food can cost the earth
By David Suzuki

When it comes to food, buying local has been the mantra of environmental groups for years. After all, it's pretty easy to conclude that transporting fruits and vegetables from one side of the globe to the other isn't very good for the planet.

Now, a comprehensive new analysis of the true costs of the way we produce, purchase and consume food has found that while international transport of food does have an impact, when it comes to environmental damage, the big culprit is domestic transportation.


Researchers in the United Kingdom used data from previous studies to estimate the hidden costs of conventional agriculture in that country. These costs include things like government subsidies; exhaust pollution from transport trucks, railroads and car travel; heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming; and infrastructure, such as roads.


Their results, published in the journal Food Policy, show that international ship and air travel currently contribute a relatively miniscule amount to the overall hidden costs of our food. By far, domestic transportation from the farm to the retailer and then from the shop to the consumer's home has the greatest impact - accounting for nearly half of the hidden costs.


Raw distance, it turns out, is not always the deciding factor in determining the adverse effects of transportation. Shipping by water, researchers note, has lower impact than shipping by road. Transport by air, on the other hand, has the greatest impact of all. Right now, hidden costs for the international transport of food are relatively low because much of this food is shipped by boat, or in the cargo holds of passenger planes. If we start to ship food by air more often, these costs could increase dramatically.


But if domestic transportation costs in a country as small as the U.K. are high, then the hidden costs of food transportation in Canada may be much higher.


Consider a box of cereal, for example, which may start with wheat from the Prairies, transported to Ontario for processing with other ingredients from all over the country, put into a box made in Quebec and then transported to British Columbia for retail sales, where it will be picked up by a consumer driving an SUV.


Because of our reliance on fossil fuels for transportation needs, each of these stages has hidden costs. In fact, even if we buy local food, but all of us drive to the store to pick it up, there are increased hidden costs. So, does this mean big-box chains that sell in huge quantities may unintentionally help the environment by reducing the number of trips taken to purchase groceries? According to the research, that doesn't appear to be the case. Consumers in the U.K. are actually making more grocery shopping trips and driving greater distances to make them than they were 20 years ago - before the rise of the megamart.


Another hidden cost of our food is taxpayer-funded government subsidies that prop up unsustainable agricultural practices. Switching to organic agriculture, the researchers conclude, would lead to big benefits in terms of overall costs to society. Of course, the benefits of organic agriculture in terms of environmental impact are greatly reduced if the food has to travel by road a great distance to reach the consumer.


So what food-shopping patterns will yield the most benefit to the environment and society? Looking at the data, walking, biking or taking public transit to buy organic, locally grown (within 20km) food would be the best choice. Grocery delivery services also help a great deal by reducing the overall number of vehicle trips. Even choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle and reducing the number of trips helps.


Unfortunately, suburban sprawl is rapidly eating up some of Canada's best farmland - which also happens to be located near urban centers. For our food to be sustainable, governments at all levels must work to curb sprawl and support local food systems.

-- Permission to use article granted by Suzuki foundation.

example of marked up document - Transporting food can cost the earth - David Suzuki

Outline

Thesis: Because local production and transport of food cause higher “hidden costs” than moving food internationally, the local level is where significant changes need to be made.

  1. British Research shows:
    1. International transportation of food adds very little to “hidden costs".
    2. Domestic transport = 50% of these costs
      1. from farm to market
      2. from market to home
    3. Transportation by water costs the least; land transportation and especially air transportation cost most
    4. In a vast nation like Canada, these costs are especially high
  2. Where are some of the “hidden costs”?
    1. Many car trips to buy food: consumers make more trips farther distances to get groceries at large “megamarts” than when they shopped more locally
    2. Rather than supporting highly beneficial local organic farming, Government subsidizes unsustainable farming practices, (the benefit of organic farming much less if the food is transported large distances over land)
  3. What are some solutions?
    1. Consumers should:
      1. make fewer trips to grocery stores
      2. use less gasoline to make grocery trips (walk, bike, public transit, smaller cars)
    2. Government should:
      1. stop urban sprawl because this uses up local farm land
      2. support local farming

Summary

In “Transporting Food Can Cost the Earth,” Suzuki argues that, because local production and transport of food cause higher “hidden costs” than moving food internationally, the local level is where significant changes need to be made. He summarizes British research which shows that the international transport of agricultural products, much of which happens by boat, does not significantly affect the “hidden costs” of moving food. In contrast, moving food products by land and especially by air adds significantly to the costs. Suzuki suggests that, in a vast nation like Canada, these costs are especially high because so much fossil fuel is needed to transport food by land and air over large distances. Returning to the research, Suzuki points out that a major cost is the way consumers use fossil fuel to drive to and from stores. Another cost is government support for “unsustainable agricultural practices.” Suzuki suggests that consumers can lessen the environmental impact of grocery shopping by choosing ways to go shopping that use no or little gasoline. Suzuki also calls on governments to support local food production by limiting “urban sprawl” because it takes over local farm land.

In-Text Citation Using APA Style (7th ed.)

This resource provides a brief introduction to using APA Style for acknowledging sources inside the text of your paper.

In-Text Citation Using MLA Style (8th ed.)

This resource provides a brief introduction to using MLA Style for acknowledging sources inside the text of your paper.