I was taught in my high school English classes that you did not need to cite an author if you used the basic idea but stated it in your own words. A citation was only required if you used the author's exact words. That may be different here at UMD, but that accounts for my lack of citation in my paper.This was my reply:
I know it's confusing and frustrating to have your teachers contradict each other, but the standard I applied to your paper has two different justifications.
First, it is the standard used by Keys for Writers, used in all UMD freshman composition courses. I don't know what other handbooks say, but I would be much surprised if they said anything substantially different.
This brings me to the second reason, one that goes beyond the mere legalism of the first reason.(1) Why do we have citations at all? There are three basic reasons: 1. to enable the reader to check the your facts, claims, and interpretations (when those facts, claims, and interpretations are derived from another source); 2. to evaluate the reliability of your sources (or at least to evaluate the nature of their bias); and 3. to acknowledge the help others have given one. The criterion you learned in your high school English class does not give credit: it lets you get help — perhaps even substantial help — from the author and never acknowledge it.
One should even bend over backwards to give credit. Credit doesn't take away from what you've done but just spreads the wealth. So I do understand that it was your high school's teaching and not any intention to deceive that created the lack of citation in your paper. (This is true of all the papers in the class.) Nevertheless, I believe that the issue is clear enough, for the reasons given above, for me to continue to require proper citations as I have outlined.
QUIZ I: Here's a passage in a term paper that references a book by John Smith:
As John Smith says, proving my point about cattle mutilations, "Yep, them cattle were sure 'nuff mutilated by aliens" (Smith, 103).Then in the bibliography, here's the reference, given in its entirety:(2)
Smith, John.Based on the information given above in pink, answer the following questions:
John Smith. www.cattlemutilations.org/~johnsmith/Based on the information given in the previous line:
1. In other words, this second reason goes beyond the first reason's assertion, "Do it because it's the law."
2. Even though this might appear patently inadequate, I do frequently find such citations in student papers.
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