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University Writing Center



Avoiding Plagiarism

in the Social Sciences

adapted from Lee Cuba’s A Short Guide to Writing About Social Science

What is plagiarism?

Salisbury University’s Academic Integrity Policy states:

 "Plagiarism occurs when a student intentionally or unintentionally deceives or disregards proper scholarly procedures; presents information, ideas or phrasing of another as if they were his/her own; and/or does not give appropriate attribution to the original source."


Paraphrasing effectively

  • Still credit the source even though it is entirely in your own words
  • Helps you to maintain control of your paper
  • Read several times until you understand the passage.
  • Don’t look at the material when you write the summary. CLOSE THE BOOK!
  • Check what you’ve written against the original to make sure you’ve captured all the main points and done so accurately.
  • Talk it through out loud
  • Run it by another reader to make sure you’ve explained things as clearly as you can (WC consultants are trained to do this)


Paraphrasing Examples

Original: “In Modern society, the differentiation of deviants from the nondeviant population is increasingly contingent upon circumstances of situation, place, social and personal biography, and the bureaucratically organized activities and agencies of control (Kitsuse 1962:256).”


*      “In contemporary society, distinguishing deviants from non-deviants is more and more determined by characteristics of context, location, societal and individual biography, and the bureaucratic organization and agencies of social control (Kitsuse 1962).”


“Labelling theorists have concluded that who and what are defined as deviant is determined by a host of factors that have little to do with behavior itself-where and when the act is committed, who is committing it, and who is responding to it (Kitsuse 1962).”

(Cuba 196-7)

Direct Quotations

  • Indentify source of the quotation, including page number
  • Always enclose in quotation marks
  • Quote material exactly
  • Draws special attention to what is being said
  • Introduce/ integrate the quote in your own writing
  • Explain the significance of the quote

(Cuba 176-180)

Use Quotations Sparingly

  • Over-quoting is a sign of an insecure writer
  • Shows a lack of control over your paper and your argument
  • Demonstrates a poor understanding of the material
  • Limits how well you can explain the connections between your ideas
  • Boring to read

 (Cuba 176-77)

Direct Quote:
Transcribe words exactly<-> Put a citation and put quote marks around it

Change words & sentence structure ↔ Put a citation


Social Science Citation Styles

  • The American Psychological Association
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • American Sociology Association
  • American Political Science Association
  • The American Anthropology Association

(Cuba 181)

Possible Penalties for Plagiarism

1. Fail Assignment

      2. Report Filed for Academic Dishonesty

         Fail course

         Cannot graduate with honors

         Cannot be inducted into any SU honor societies


How the Writing Center can help

  • Help ensure you avoided plagiarism
  • Help with proper citation/formatting
  • Numerous resources available


Remember the University Writing Center can help at any stage in the writing process, including how to properly cite and integrate outside sources.

For more information, call 410-543-6332 or visit us in GUC 206.