punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

To my teacher friends: how to determine plagiarism?

Okay, suppose I have this basic essay due on, let's say kumquats. Now, I know these days teachers are plagued with people who cut and paste from something like Wikipedia (or whatever) on the Internet. But how blurred is this line? Let's take the first two paragraphs from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumquat

If I did a part of the essay that looked like this, would it be considered plagiarized?

The kumquats are a group of small fruit-bearing trees in the flowering plant family Rutaceae, genus Fortunella. The edible fruit of the kumquat closely resembles that of the orange (Citrus sinensis) but is smaller and is often oval. This is why it is often included in Citrus classification.

The plant that bears the fruit are slow-growing evergreen shrubs, from 8 to 15 feet tall, have dense branches, and sometimes bear small thorns. The leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers pure white (similar to other citrus flowers) that grow singly or clustered in the leaf-axils. The average kumquat tree produces 80 to 100 fruit each year. The tree can be hydrophytic, and fruit is often found floating near the shore during the kumquat season.

I am just curious where the line is drawn between a direct copy and repeating what you have read. In the old days, when we still had pencils and dinosaurs roamed the badlands, I pretty much did this right out of books, particularly if the subject was arbitrary to any knowledge I would consider useful later on. I copied what I saw, put it in my own words, and passed that in. But often I didn't have words that fit better than what I just read. So I posted those, although, not in huge stretches of paragraphs, just a sentence or two here and there.
Tags: essay, plagiarism, school, teacher, writing
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