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Model MLA-Style Essay on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Plagiarizing in Research

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When conducting any sort of research it is important to maintain the utmost level of credibility and integrity. It is very likely that when performing said research, other sources will have to be used. In order to maintain credibility and integrity in research and as individuals, it is necessary to give proper credit to any outside sources that information is gleaned from. This is possible by citing sources correctly.

Quoting and paraphrasing are two of the most popular forms of utilizing outside sources in research, but they are also some of the most misused elements of writing. This is precisely why writers will often order a sample or model essay to use for reference so they know exactly how to format their quoted or paraphrased material. If quotations, paraphrases, and other information are not properly cited, then plagiarism occurs. Plagiarism is unscholarly, unethical, and, sometimes, illegal.

The consequences for plagiarism can range from expulsion, in terms of education, to legal ramifications in the professional world. It is important for those who wish to remain credible and ethical in their research to understand quoting, paraphrasing, and plagiarizing in research.

Directly quoting research in your MLA-style essay

Of all the available means of citing outside sources in research, none are as precisely formatted as direct quotations. Purdue Online Writing Lab, popularly known as Purdue OWL, says, “Quotations must be identical to the original. Using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author” (Purdue OWL, "Quoting"). Quotations can be effectively used for a variety of reasons. This particular essay is written in the MLA style, so if you need a refresher regarding APA stlye, be sure to click here for more about how to properly use quotes and citations for APA.

Typical calls-to-action for instances and occurrences of quotation marks:

  • Provide support and claims or add credibility to your writing
  • Refer to work that leads up to the work you are doing now
  • Call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with
  • Give examples of several points of view on a subject
  • Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original
  • Expand the breadth or depth of your writing (Purdue OWL, "Quoting")

It is also important to keep in mind that there are additional types of quotations that can be utilized: in-text quotations and block quotations. As the Ultius "Essay Quotes and Citations" page outlines, there are several ways of executing quotations based on different formats, they all have similar elements. For example:

Provide the author and specific page citation (in the case of verse, provide line numbers) in the text, and include a complete reference on the Works Cited page. Punctuation marks such as periods, commas, and semicolons should appear after the parenthetical citation. (Purdue OWL, "Quoting")

The quoted material above relays the directions for an in-text quotation. Because it contains four lines (or 40 or more words), it is entered as a block quotation per the MLA formatting rules for block quotations. If the example were fewer than four lines, it would have remained with quotation marks and in line with the rest of the text in the paragraph.

Block Quotes vs. In-Text Quotes Source: Ultius Blog
Examples of a block quote, an in-text quote, and their format.
Example of block and in-text quotes

Paraphrasing quoted material and avoiding plagiarism in an MLA-stlye model essay

The Purdue Online Writing Lab defines "paraphrasing" in these terms:

  • Your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form.
  • One legitimate way (when accompanied by accurate documentation) to borrow from a source.
  • A more detailed restatement than a summary, which focuses concisely on a single main idea. (Purdue OWL, "Paraphrasing")

Paraphrasing, as with quotations, has many benefits to research writing. The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin – Madison provides some in-depth information on paraphrasing that proves invaluable.

General advice on the subject of paraphrasing, quoting and avoiding plagiarism:

  1. When reading a passage, try first to understand it as a whole, rather than pausing to write down specific ideas or phrases.
  2. Be selective. Unless your task is to compose a formal or literal paraphrase, you usually don’t need to paraphrase an entire passage; instead, choose and summarize the material that helps you make a stronger point in your paper.
  3. Think of what "your own words" would be if you were speaking to someone who's unfamiliar with the topic (your mother, your brother, a friend) what the original source said. This ties in with the importance of effectively identifying your audience.
  4. Remember that you can use direct quotations of phrases from the original within your paraphrase, and that you don't need to change or put quotation marks around shared language. (The Writing Center)

Citation styles for quoting and paraphrasing in research

There are many types of citation styles available for use. Which style that a writer should utilize is dependent on their subject-matter and writing affiliation. The University Library at American University in Washington, D.C. provides a list of which disciplines require which citation styles.

Popular Citation Styles for Research Source: University Library
See the most common writing styles and the disciplines for which they are typically utilized.
MLA Modern Language Association Literature and humanities
APA American Psychological Association Social sciences
CMS Chicago Manual of Style Humanities and social sciences
Turabian A variation of CMS. Humanities, social sciences and natural sciences

There are also many resources to aid writers in using the correct formatting techniques for their citation style of choice. The Purdue OWL is among the most popular, along with the Chicago Manual of Style and Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations (8th ed). (The University Library). With all of the resources that are clearly available, plagiarizing due to inaccurate citations should never be an option to any writer.

Plagiarizing in an MLA-style essay or research paper

Merriam-Webster defines plagiarizing as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own use (another's production) without crediting the source” Merriam-Webster). Though the fact has already been established that the improper citation of outside sources in research writing is a common form of plagiarizing, there is also the blatant use of another person’s work without any acknowledgment at all. Surprisingly enough, even though it is a constantly broached topic, plagiarism is a problem. 

Statistics on Plagiarism Source: Plagiarism.org
Astonishing statistics on plagiarism from a Plagiarism.org student survey.
  • 58% of high school students admit to cheating on a test.
  • One out of three high schools students admit to using the Internet to plagiarize.
  • 38% of undergraduates and 24% of graduate students admitted to using information without a citation.
  • 7% of undergraduates and 4% of graduate students report copying information word for word without citing the source.
  • 43% of college students admit to cheating on test and written assignments (Plagiarism.org).

These statistics speak loud and clear about the issues that are prevalent in regard to plagiarizing in research. It is very apparent that not only is plagiarism prevalent among students, but they are openly admitting to it. Ethics in writing doesn't always boil down to cheating or citing sources, but how the sources are used - cited or not. Commonly referred to as "yellow journalism," a recent example of this issue was made prevalent in Hulk Hogan's case against Gawker Magazine.

Instances of plagiarizing in quoted and paraphrased research

Now that the grasp of what plagiarism is, some examples of plagiarism being recognized legally would be appropriate for the purpose of this discussion. Some examples of cheating and plagiarism resulting in legal action were noted in a Wall Street Journal article entitled, "Seven College Cheating Scandals." 

Recent instances of legal action involving plagiarism:

  • MBA Students Network a Bit Too Much: Duke University
  • Maryland Professors Put the Sting on Cheaters: University of Maryland
  • Naval Academy Students Go Students: United States Naval Academy
  • Henry Ford II Lacks the Drive to Write His Thesis: Yale University
  • Don’t Mess With the Honor Code: University of Virginia
  • No Online Help for the GMAT: GMAT Testing
  • Dental School Bites Down on Cheaters: Indiana University School of Dentistry (Trex)

In the case of Henry Ford II, we see an Ivy League celebrity in his younger days trying to hack the system. “When he had to write a thesis on the novels of Thomas Hardy, he did what any enterprising car mogul would do: he outsourced the assignment to another student in exchange for cash” (Trex). He was caught when the receipt for the work was turned in with the assignment. He did not graduate from Yale (Trex). This example shows that no one, not even Henry Ford, is immune from the pitfalls and dishonor of plagiarism.

Consequences of plagiarism in research papers and essays

While there are just as many variations of plagiarism and ways to get around them, there are equally as many consequences when caught doing it. Another Ultius blog, "10 Writing Tips for Students" aptly states the following on the consequences of plagiarism: "There are a number of consequences to engaging in plagiarism including, destruction of your student, academic or professional reputation, public humiliation, and legal and monetary consequences" (Ultius). Of the seven cases mentioned above, all of them faced a varying array of consequences. In the dental school scandal at the Indiana University School Dentistry, “nine students were expelled, 16 more were suspended, and another 21 received letters of reprimand” (Trex).

In the other incidents, one or more the following consequences occurred:

  • Suspensions
  • Letters of reprimand
  • Expulsions
  • Revocation of degrees
  • Postponement of crucial exams (Trex)

These consequences have forced individuals to put their dreams and lives on hold as they deal with the backlash of the dishonesty involved in bad choices that could have been avoided by not plagiarizing. The professors of these students also have had to deal with the inconveniences that the irresponsible actions of their students have caused them as well. The experts conducting the editing services at Ultius will be the first to tell you that conclusively identifying plagiarism is extremely time-consuming and requires far more time to discern than it does to actually learn and execute the best practices for citing sources.

Model MLA-style Essay on quoting, paraphrasing, and plagiarizing in research conclusion

The importance of steering clear of plagiarism in research cannot be stressed enough. There are a myriad of resources and tools available to help the ill-informed cite outside sources and material properly. Even with those resources, there are some who still choose to become unethical and lose their integrity. Aside from the exemplary writing and mechanics of the Ultius freelance writer who this sample essay, the important points to remember on quoting, paraphrasing and plagiarizing in research are listed below.

These 6 guidelines will help guide any writer and should not be taken lightly:

  1. Quote properly.
  2. Paraphrase appropriately.
  3. Consult resources on citing outside sources correctly.
  4. Ask plenty of questions.
  5. Do not plagiarize!
  6. Everyone eventually gets caught.

Works Cited

Merriam-Webster Dictionary. "Plagiarize." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, 2015. Web. 13 June 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize>

Plagiarism.org. "Facts & Stats." Plagiarism.org. N.p., 2014. Web. 13 June 2016. <http://www.plagiarism.org/resources/facts-and-stats/>

Purdue OWL. "Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words." Purdue OWL Writing Lab. 2016. Web. 13 June 2016. <https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/563/02/>

Purdue OWL. "Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing." Purdue OWL Writing Lab. 2016. Web. 13 June 2016. <https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/563/1/>

The University Library. "Citation Style Guide." APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian. 31 May 2016. Web. 13 June 2016. <http://subjectguides.library.american.edu/c.php?g=175008>

The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison. "How to Paraphrase a Source." Avoiding Plagiarism: Quoting and Paraphrasing. 2014. Web. 13 June 2016. <http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QPA_paraphrase2.html>

Trex, Ethan. "Seven College Cheating Scandals." The Wall Street Journal. 15 May 2009. Web. 13 June 2016. <http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124216746702112585

Ultius. "10 Writing Tips for Students." Writing Tips and Guides. 24 Apr. 2016. Web. 12 Sep. 2016. <https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/10-writing-tips-for-students.html>

Cite This Post

This blog post is provided free of charge and we encourage you to use it for your research and writing. However, we do require that you cite it properly using the citation provided below (in MLA format).

Ultius, Inc. "Model MLA-Style Essay on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Plagiarizing in Research." Ultius Blog. Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, 12 Sep. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016. <https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/model-mla-style-essay-on-quoting-paraphrasing-and-plagiarizing-in-research.html>

Thank you for practicing fair use.

This citation is in MLA format, if you need help with MLA format, click here to follow our citation style guide.




Ultius, Inc. "Model MLA-Style Essay on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Plagiarizing in Research." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 12 Sep. 2016. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/model-mla-style-essay-on-quoting-paraphrasing-and-plagiarizing-in-research.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Model MLA-Style Essay on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Plagiarizing in Research." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. September 12, 2016 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/model-mla-style-essay-on-quoting-paraphrasing-and-plagiarizing-in-research.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Model MLA-Style Essay on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Plagiarizing in Research." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. September 12, 2016 https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/model-mla-style-essay-on-quoting-paraphrasing-and-plagiarizing-in-research.html.

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