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I am creating a nonfiction workbook for elementary students that will include reading...

sharrons's profile pic

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I am creating a nonfiction workbook for elementary students that will include reading passages.  I want to avoid plagiarizing.

For instance, if I am writing an article about dalmatians, and I go to the American Kennel Club site and get some basic information or wikipedia about dalmatians.  Would I have to cite them?  Would I have to get permission. I m confused.  How do people write nonfiction with regards to permission and plagiarism.  Is there a website about this, I could look at?

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scarletpimpernel's profile pic

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The key for avoiding plagiarism is to cite any information that you did not know without looking it up (whether it is from a book, magazine, internet source, etc., does not matter--it has to be cited). If you are "publishing" a book, you will need to get permission for anything that is copyrighted in addition to citing your source.

Another area that my students struggle with in regards to plagiarism is paraphrasing and summarizing.  They mistakenly believe that if they reword an author's work, then they do not need to provide a citation.  This is the most common form of plagiarism.  Again, anything that you include in your own writing that you did not know before consulting a source must be cited within your paper (whether that be through footnotes or parenthetical documentation is up to you and the style you choose).

If you go to the link I've included below, Purdue's Writing Lab provides excellent information about citing sources through MLA format and offers tips on how to avoid plagiarism.

One last tip--I would avoid Wikipedia as a credible source.  Almost anyone can post on Wikipedia, and the information is not fact-checked as it should be.

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