University Writing Center and Graduate Studies Workshop

Dr. Lila Harper


Before You Begin


By providing clear documentation and using good research methodology, you are giving future graduates access to your work. Failure to correctly account for your information invalidates your research. Additionally, the graduate school has the duty to ensure that what is added to the library collection is, in turn, acceptable as source material for future researchers. In a way, the university is acting much like a peer-reviewed journal or university press. We understand that this care and attention to detail may be new to you, but it represents the scholarly ideal that is the foundation of graduate study.



What do you need to track?


You need to track all sources of information other than the data you actually gather. To avoid unintentional plagiarism use the following guidelines:


* Avoid using exact language unless you are going to analyze the language of a particular text.


*In your notes, paraphrase and summarize whenever possible.

*In drafts, use different colors or typeface along with quotation marks to designate exact language.


*Do not use large blocks of language from any source.

*Use sources to support your argument, not to state your argument.

*"Sandwich" any direct quotations between your own discussion of the material.

á        Do not begin or end a paragraph with a direct quotation.

á        Use attributive tag phrases or transition phrases with your direct quotations.


Myths that will get you into trouble:

á        Texts from websites can be pasted into a document with no quote marks if I cite the source—WRONG

Just because the material is available via a computer terminal does not mean you can be careless in its use. Treat it with the same care as traditional paper resources. When copying and pasting material from a website, be sure to add quote marks around the wording.


á        Paraphrasing means adding a few words or changing the tense—WRONG

A paraphrase is a complete rewording of the sourceŐs language. It must not echo the sentence structure of the original and it certainly involves more than changing or adding a few words. Such minor changes are called "near quotes" or "illegal paraphrases." Making such minor changes to a quotation and presenting it as if it were your language is regarded as "academic plagiarism"—even if it is correctly cited.


á        Quotation rules do not apply to documents from organizations or government agencies—WRONG  

Organizations are considered authors and those documents are not treated any differently than texts with named authors.


Research projects require that writers understand published sources on a topic and integrate those ideas with their own ideas. Doing this requires that student researchers clearly delineate the differences between their ideas and that of others. Others' writing, either ideas or language, must not be presented as if it were yours.


Possible Causes for Plagiarism


1.      Ignorance of Research Expectations

2.      Lack of English Proficiency

3.      Cultural Misunderstanding

4.      Cheating


I am going to address number 1, the most common problem I have seen in masters' theses. To take the sting out of the word "plagiarism," most often now the problem is addressed as one of "originality." However it is viewed, writers new to the expectations and conventions of university research do have problems using sources in an appropriate manner. Careful tracking of your sources before you write will prevent later problems.


Compose your working bibliography or reference list as you work on drafts of your thesis. DonŐt put your reference list together at the last minute. This part of your document should evolve as you develop your drafts. Whenever you include a source, write up the reference citation for it following the style manualŐs guidelines. For each source, you must record the following information:


1.      Author(s)' name(s). Record the names of the first 6 authors. Remember that if a work has 2 authors, both authors need to be named at all times in your text. Check your style manual for et al. rules.

2.      Title of the book or article. Get the complete title; this includes the subtitle. Note if the work is part of a series.

3.      Additional non-author involvement. Record any book editors or translators. You do not need to record series editors or the journalŐs editorial board.

4.      The publisher and city (not just state) of publication (if a book) or the title of a periodical.

5.      The date of publication (if website, date of posting). If a journal periodical, you also need volume and issue number. If non-journal periodical, you need the month and possibly the day.

6.      The inclusive page numbers (if an article). Note that this is the page range of an article in a periodical or anthology, not just the pages you use.


If you cannot determine information from the work, use the Cattrax online library catalog or the WorldCat database (available via CWU Library website) to clarify documentation information.



Additionally, for your own records, you should indicate how and where you obtained the material. Write down the call number.


Only cite what you actually use. If you use information that was reprinted in your source, in other words, if you obtain the information indirectly, you will need to indicate that you did not obtain the information from the original author, but used a source that, in turn, quoted or paraphrased that information. Your style manual will show you how to cite such material.


When using your style manual, you might become confused since style manuals deal with the draft submission of articles. Longer projects that are designed to be issued in a book format differ in a few ways from draft article formats. Below is a chart showing some differences between the draft, the thesis, and the book format.


Comparison of Formats


Draft Format

Thesis Format

Book Format


1" margins

1 ½" left margin

1 ½" left margin

D.S. for editing. Block quotes are indented on the left.

D.S. but you may SS footnotes, block quotes, and tables if references are SS. Block quotes are indented on left side.

S.S. smaller font for tables and block quotes are centered.


No right justification

No right justification

Right justified

May not have title page.

Has special title page.


Title page and copyright page.

First paragraph in chapter indented.

First paragraph in chapter indented.

First paragraph in chapter has no paragraph indent.

Page numbers in upper right hand corner.

Page numbers on bottom of first page of chapters and other main divisions.

Page numbers on bottom or not shown on first page of chapters.



Signature page

Review of Literature




Pre-Cotton Check


For those working on theses (not thesis projects), I will arrange to check the finished work before you submit your work to the Graduate Office. It is advised that you meet with Diane Houser in the Graduate Studies Office to discuss formatting issues, especially if you have tables and figures. When I see the thesis, it should be in an edited form, have complete documentation and include your committee's changes. The purpose of a pre-cotton check is to alert you to problems that would require a complete reprinting of your thesis. Generally, you should be prepared to sit down with me as I go over the formatting. A complete reading of the thesis will only be done once the work is submitted to the Graduate Office in its final form.


What will be done in a pre-cotton check:


*Margins will be measured.


*Page number placement will be checked.


*Format of preface pages will be checked against thesis regulations.


*Reference page and some in-text references will be examined for conformity to your style manual.


*Tables and figures will be checked for conformity to style and clarity.


What will not be done in a pre-cotton check:


*Editing of the work.

The Graduate Office is not in the editing business. We are checking the format, research, and writing quality of the thesis. The student is responsible for making sure the work is in as perfect a shape as possible.


*Commenting on content.

Content issues need to be raised with the committee chair.