Academic Honesty in Sociology/Anthropology

Avoiding Plagiarism: Guidelines for Citations and Academic Honesty in Sociology/Anthropology

Middlebury College

Academic integrity depends on appropriate citations of others’ prior work and contributions. Research is typically built on a foundation of the work of others and it is essential to acknowledge the origins of others’ ideas and their expression of those ideas. Without proper acknowledgment, using the words or ideas of another is considered plagiarism. 

For general help in learning how to cite and reference materials according to American Anthropological Association (AAA) style, see the AAA Style Guide at http://www.americananthro.org/StayInformed/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=2044

For Sociology, see the ASA Quick Style Guide at http://sites.middlebury.edu/soanseniors/files/2011/09/ASA-Quick-Style-guide.pdf

Below are some specific guidelines and examples that may be helpful to you.

USING THE EXACT WORDS OF ANOTHER AUTHOR

Whenever you use the exact words of another author, you must put quotation marks around those words. For example,

"In Scandinavian civilization, and in a good number of others, exchanges and contracts take place in the form of presents; in theory these are voluntary, in reality they are given and reciprocated obligatorily" (Mauss 1950, p. 3).

The complete reference from which the quotation was taken must also appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to quote extensively from other sources—unless they said something in a way that was so fantastic that you want to preserve the wording! Your thoughts will generally flow better if you put the material into your own words.

PRESENTING THE WORK OF ANOTHER AUTHOR IN YOUR OWN WORDS

When you are using another author’s ideas, you acknowledge the source of the material by citing it. For example,

Gift exchanges may seem voluntary to us, but in fact we have little choice but to both give and receive gifts (Mauss 1950, p.3).

Or

Mauss (1950) argued that, while gift exchanges are theoretically voluntary . . .

On the other hand, the following is NOT an appropriate use of paraphrasing, and would be considered plagiarism:

Exchanges often take the form of presents; in theory we say these are voluntary, while in reality they are given and reciprocated obligatorily (Mauss 1950).

A few words have been changed or eliminated. This kind of word substitution is NOT putting the material into your own words -- it is plagiarism. 

SECONDARY SOURCES

"Secondary source" is the term used to describe material that cites another (primary) source. In the book “Outline of a Theory of Practice,” Pierre Bourdieu explains Mauss’ ideas.  If you read Bourdieu’s book for your term paper, then Mauss is the primary source (the ideas are his), and Bourdieu is the secondary source (the book you actually read and which refers to Mauss).  If you must use a secondary source, you should cite it in the following way:

Mauss (as cited in Bourdieu 1977) argued that the capitalist market is distinct from the process of gift exchange.

The reference for the Bourdieu book (but not the Mauss book) should then appear in the reference list at the end of your paper.  This is because you actually read Bourdieu’s book, not Mauss.’

The above is acceptable practice. But the best practice would be to go back and read Mauss for yourself!

USING ORIGINAL INTERVIEW DATA

If you are presenting quotes from interviews you conducted, the way you will go about doing this is different. If you are conducting interviews, you should have IRB approval, or if you are conducting interviews as part of a class, your instructor will instruct you on ethical practice. When you use interview quotes or participant observation data, you will likely camouflage the identities of your interviewees to protect them.

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Keep in mind that these guidelines are not meant to supersede the college's policy regarding plagiarism (see the College Handbook online and the material on plagiarism distributed to all Middlebury students). Those rules—for example, that papers may not be turned in for more than one course without the approval of both instructors—always apply, regardless of discipline.

Adapted from: 

Middlebury College Psychology Department. “Guidelines for Academic Integrity in Writing Scientific Papers: How to Cite and Paraphrase without Plagiarizing.”

Which was in turn adapted from:

Denison University Department of Psychology. (1982, September). Guidelines for Avoiding Plagiarism. Granville, OH.

Department of Sociology & Anthropology

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