Ibid op cit ....f it!

I do have another question now I've read today's post - what about if you're a historical writer and a contemporary document quotes a historical figure as saying something and you use that exact statement or quote in your novel - is that plagiarism? I'm thinking not but now I'm a bit worried - particularly since you mentioned historical writers!

Let's be clear about what plagiarism IS. It's lifting something someone else wrote and passing it off as your own.

If I copied the above email from one of my beloved Snarklings, posted it here, sans italics, quotes or other "notification punctuation"..THAT is plagiarism because it will lead you gentle readers to think it is the breathless prose of Miss Snark.

You can quote anyone you want SAFELY if you cite the source. If you read Miss Snark’s blog and quote her in your writing, you have to credit the blog and Miss Snark. (We take credit and debit cards of course...and cash is always nice).

Go back to the Chicago Manual of Style (not published by Vogue but oh well) and learn all those ibid, op cits, and citation styles. Miss Snark had them down cold when she was writhing ...errr.... writing her thesis on the Use of the Past Pluperfect In The Novels of Barbara Cartland, but sadly, now that her sheepskin is on the wall, she's lost every bit of style she ever had.

This poor lad whose book has been rescinded erred in not CITING the source rather than just using it.

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's (Matt 22:21) so to speak.


Cyclus said...

I'd also recommend that if you are a historical *fiction* writer, or any other writer of history, you don't rely on secondary sources at all for direct quotes. That's the surest way to get it wrong.

Sal said...

Steven Saylor always has interesting stories about the sorts of research he does for his mysteries. You can find some interviews and such that he's given with a Google search. If you ever get a chance to see him talk, do so. Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Lyn Hamilton, all have stories to tell.

Bill Peschel said...

Let's be clear about this with regards to historical fiction. If you have a document in which historical character says something, and you copy that as a way of telling your story, that's not plagiarism.

For example: "The crowd had barely settled down when Lincoln stood up and said, "Four score and seven years ago ..."

That's not plagiarism.

Now, suppose I wrote this:

"The occasion for the speech was the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg. Lincoln knew that no mere ceremonial dedication was adequate. The men who struggled there had already consecrated the ground by their unforgettable sacrifices for the preservation of the ideals of 1776.

No, he needed to say more. He sat down at his desk at the White House and wrote ...

'Four score and seven years ago.'"

There, I've just committed plagiarism by copying and slightly altering a passage from Dwight Anderson's 1982 book "Abraham Lincoln: The Quest for Immortality."

That's the difference.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Just please keep in mind that it's not always plagiarism when a source isn't cited. For instance, over at P&E, we often encounter instances where our sources don't want to be identified, therefore we put the information in quotes and leave out the citation information since we give our sources confidentiality when asked. Of course, we do keep that on file.

Still, under all other circumstances sources should be cited.

Janet McC said...

The Use of the Past Pluperfect in the Novels of Barbara Cartland



(Your correspondent notes that she does not know if this is true. She once had been curious enough about Dame Cartland's enormous sales to purchase one of the lady's novels, there being nothing else of even mild interest in the drugstore rack on that particular day in the mid-1970s. Her curiosity ended somewhere in the first chapter, and the book ended up atop a waste bin in downtown Washington, D.C. (She thought of throwing it in, but couldn't bring herself to do that. After all, someone might want it.))