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Pass? or Prepared? Rudiger Appel's Figurine and Link to his site.

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: June 28, 2000
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On Plagiarism in Theory

This Pass or Prepared? is brought to you, courtesy of the Social Science Research Institute Council, from their Workshop on Wednesday, June 14, 2000. Earl Babbie, whose name many of you will recognize from discussions on methods and statistics, has written an essay on plagiarism.

Based on Earl Babbie's essay, answer the following questions:

  1. Is plagiarism an issue in theory?

    One Plausible Answer

    Plagiarism is an issue in theory particularly, for theory is about ideas. As Prof. Babbie says, "There is nothing wrong with presenting someone else's words and ideas in a term paper or in a published, scholarly work. In fact, any field of thought evolves as people read each other's ideas, learn from and build on those ideas. The key to doing this properly lies in acknowledgement and citation." Babbie, Earl. (1998). Plagiarism [Online]. Available:, [2000, June 16].

  2. Theory is about thinking, and thinking critically. Why does that make it even more important to guard against taking credit for someone else's ideas?

    One Plausible Answer

    Easier to get confused when you are thinking as you write. Facts are fairly easy to rephrase. Arguments can be complex and convoluted. Sometimes we think we've said what we were thinking, only to discover that we made some intellectual leaps, skipping some steps in our thinking, just as the math teacher occasionally does when she races through a problem at the board.

    There are two simple tricks to help you guard against plagiarism. Each involves planning a little ahead.

    1. Read the scholarly source at least an hour or two before you begin to write. You'll find it's very hard to remember someone else's exact words.
    2. Put your written work aside, if you can manage to work that ahead. Then go back and compare it as many hours later as you can. It will be easier to see the similarities you couldn't see when you were writing it.

  3. We hate to be "picky," but there's a spelling dilemma here. Three words sound alike, but they are spelled very differently: site, cite, sight. Can you write a sentence using all three words?

    One Plausible Answer

    If you cite that site you're going to get a citation for poor eye sight. Well, nobody said a sensible sentence. It was just for fun.

    Figurine by Rudiger Appel. Notice that you can see three effects in the animation. Either the Variation on the Kandinsky figurine appears to turn in a clockwise direction, or in a counterclockwise direction, or it appears to open and close. Can you see all three effects? Try. Fascinated? Link to Appel's site and then link to the background he provides. Scroll down until you find a link to background.

Copright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata, June 2000. "Fair Use" encouraged.