Based on the passage and examples below, how would one answer the following questions: Which of the examples represent plagiarism, and which are acceptable? Explain. This set of examples...

Based on the passage and examples below, how would one answer the following questions:

  1. Which of the examples represent plagiarism, and which are acceptable? Explain.

  2. This set of examples has been used by many different instructors. Teachers (both K-12 and higher ed) participate in a culture of sharing that is intended to benefit students and normally isn't considered plagiarism. Politicians, too, often present words that they did not themselves author. Everyone is aware of the role of political speech writers, and thus this practice is not considered plagiarism. Can you think of other situations where one person presents the words of another without citation, and the practice is not considered plagiarism? What is the difference between the situation you have in mind, or the situations described above, and that of plagiarism that appears in the work of an individual author (whether a student or professional author)?

Original passage as it appears on page 111 of Neil Postman's 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death:“television has achieved the power to define the form in which news must come, and it has also defined how we shall respond to it. In presenting news to us packaged as vaudeville, television induces other media to do the same, so that the total information environment begins to mirror television.”

Example 1: Television has achieved the power to define the form in which news must come, and it has also defined how we shall respond to it. In presenting news to us packaged as vaudeville, television induces other media to do the same, so that the total information environment begins to mirror television.

Example 2: According to media critic Neil Postman, television has achieved the power to define the form in which news must come, and it has also defined how we shall respond to it. In presenting news to us packaged as vaudeville, television induces other media to do the same, so that the total information environment begins to mirror television (111).

Example 3: According to media critic Neil Postman, “television has achieved the power to define the form in which news must come, and it has also defined how we shall respond to it. In presenting news to us packaged as vaudeville, television induces other media to do the same, so that the total information environment begins to mirror television” (111).

Example 4: According to media critic Neil Postman, television has achieved such dominance as to dictate the form in which news comes, and it also dictates how we respond to it. In delivering news as vaudeville, television causes other media to follow suit, so that all information begins to resemble television (111).

Example 5: Television has achieved such dominance as to dictate the form in which news comes, and it also dictates how we respond to it. In delivering news as vaudeville, television causes other media to follow suit, so that all information begins to resemble television.

Example 6: According to media critic Neil Postman, television now determines the way in which news is delivered and received, with the result that all news media have increasingly come to emphasize entertainment over depth and substance (111).

 
 
 

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The only two examples in the list that will not count as plagiarism are examples 3 and 6. One reason why both examples 3 and 6 will not count as plagiarism is because the source of the quote, Neil Postman, is stated in what we call the signal phrase, which is the sentence or sentence fragment just before either a direct quote or paraphrase. In the case of both examples 3 and 6, the signal phrase reads as follows: "According to media critic Neil Postman."  

Another reason why example 3 will not count as plagiarism is because, even though Postman's words are copied in full, the author has indicated they are Postman's words by correctly using quotation marks. In contrast to example 3, example 6 is a paraphrase, and paraphrases do not count as plagiarism so long as we express another author's words using completely our own words.

In contrast to example 6, other examples use punctuation to indicate the author is trying to paraphrase Postman, but instead of paraphrasing, the authors of the examples actually borrow Postman's words. Examples 4 and 5 are all written as attempted paraphrases, as indicated by the lack of quotation marks. However, such words and phrases belonging to Postman can be found in these examples as "television has achieved such dominance," "dictates," "respond to it," and "vaudeville." Only in example 6 does the author express the same ideas using completely the author's own words, not Postman's words.

Both examples 1 and 2 are also clear examples of plagiarism. Example 1 is the clearest because not only is Neil Postman not introduced in a signal phrase, the author of example 1 copied Postman's ideas word for word without using quotation marks. Similarly, while example 2 does introduce Postman in a signal phrase, again, the author failed to use quotation marks, making the passage look like a paraphrase of Postman's ideas when in actuality the author again copied Postman's ideas word for word.

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