PLAGIARISM, QUOTING, AND APPROPRIATE DOCUMENTATION
Whenever you quote from a work, paraphrase it, or use its ideas or facts, you need to give credit to that work and its author. There are rules for showing where you found your information.
When you have an assignment that involves research, your teacher will go over these rules with you. There are also handbooks and websites you can use for extra help. You won't have much trouble learning how to give credit to works you use in your reports. It is more important, however, that you learn when such credit is required.
The following passage is an excerpt from page 24 of The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe. After the excerpt, you will see several examples of correct and incorrect references to research material. Each incorrect reference is an example of plagiarism - using someone else's work and presenting it as your own.
A young man might go into military flight training believing that he was entering some sort of technical school in which he was simply going to acquire a certain set of skills. Instead, he found himself all at once enclosed in a fraternity. And in this fraternity, even though it was military, men were not rated by their outward rank as ensigns, lieutenants, commanders, or whatever. No, herein the world was divided into those who had it and those who did not. This quality, this it, was never named, however, nor was it talked about in any way.
Wolfe, Tom. The Right Stuff. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979.
[This listing is the appropriate format for including a book in your Bibliography or, more accurately, your list of Works Cited.]
CORRECT: In The Right Stuff, his book about the early days of the space program, Tom Wolfe indicates that pilots in flight school were not merely learning some technical skill; indeed, he says that these young men found themselves "all at once enclosed in a fraternity" (24).
INCORRECT: In the early days of the space program, a young pilot might have thought he was simply going to acquire a certain set of skills. Instead, he found himself all at once enclosed in a fraternity.
CORRECT: In The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe explains that the fraternity of early test pilots was not based on rank but on their possession of a mystical quality that no one could quite define (24).
INCORRECT: The test pilots of the 1940's and 1950's were members of a special fraternity that based membership and power on an unknown characteristic. It was something everyone knew but no one named or talked about.
CORRECT: Tom Wolfe has written about the special society the early test pilots felt they belonged to. In The Right Stuff, he states that, within this select group of fliers, they all knew that some had what it took to succeed while others did not (24).
INCORRECT: Every organization has its own secret rules and signs of success. For example, the men who became the first American astronauts started out as test pilots. Within this group, they developed special ways - always unstated - of knowing who was excelling and who was not.