The penalty for plagiarism is usually determined by the instructor teaching the course involved. In many schools and colleges, it could involve failure for the paper and it could mean failure for the entire course and even expulsion from school. Ignorance of the rules about plagiarism is no excuse, and carelessness is just as bad as purposeful violation. At the very least, however, students who plagiarize have cheated themselves out of the experience of being responsible members of the academic community and have cheated their classmates by pretending to contribute something original which is, in fact, a cheap copy. Within schools and colleges that have a diverse student body, instructors should be aware that some international students from other cultures may have ideas about using outside resources that differ from the institution's policies regarding plagiarism; opportunities should be provided for all students to become familiar with institutional policies regarding plagiarism. See Course Syllabus for exact penalty for plagiarism.
Students who do not thoroughly understand the concept of plagiarism and methods of proper documentation should request assistance from their teacher and from librarians.
Another resource on avoiding plagiarism is available through the Writing Center at Indiana University.
VII. Working with Quotations
Quotations that constitute fewer than five lines in your paper should be set off with quotation marks [ “ ” ] and be incorporated within the normal flow of your text. For material exceeding that length, omit the quotation marks and indent the quoted language one inch from your left-hand margin. If an indented quotation is taken entirely from one paragraph, the first line should be even with all the other lines in that quotation; however, if an indented quotation comes from two or more paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph an additional one-quarter inch.
If quotation marks appear within the text of a quotation that already has the usual double-quote marks [ “ ” ] around it (a quote-within-a-quote), set off that inner quotation with single-quote marks [ ‘ ’ ] . Such a quote-within-a-quote within an indented quotation is marked with double-quote marks.
In the United States, the usual practice is to place periods and commas inside quotation marks, regardless of logic. Other punctuation marks — question marks, exclamation marks, semicolons, and colons — go where logic would dictate. Thus, we might see the following sentences in a paper about Robert Frost:
(Note, also, the slash mark / (with a space on either side) to denote the poem's line-break.) But observe the placement of this semicolon:
There is a hint of the nursery rhyme in the line "My little horse must think it queer"; however, the poem then quickly turns darkly serious.
Pay close attention to the placement of commas and periods in the use of citations.
For further help with the use of quotation marks, see the appropriate section in your writing handbook.
VIII. Research Paper Format
Recommendations here are based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. It is important to note, however, that individual instructors and institutions or departments may vary from these recommendations somewhat and that it is always wise to consult with your instructor before formatting and submitting your work.
Use white, twenty-pound, 81/2- by 11-inch paper. Erasable paper tends to smudge and should be avoided for a final draft. If you prefer to use erasable paper in the preparation of your paper, submit a good photocopy to your instructor.
Except for page numbers (see below), leave one-inch margins all around the text of your paper -- left side, right side, and top and bottom. Paragraphs should be indented half an inch; set-off quotations should be indented an inch from the left margin (five spaces and ten spaces, respectively, on standard typewriters).
The MLA Guide says that "the research paper must be double-spaced," including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited.
Heading and Title:
Your research paper does not need a title page. At the top of the first page, at the left-hand margin, type your name, your instructor's name, the course name and number, and the date -- all on separate, double-spaced lines. Then double-space again and center the title above your text. (If your title requires more than one line, double-space between the lines.) Double-space again before beginning your text. The title should be neither underlined nor written in all capital letters. Capitalize only the first, last, and principal words of the title. Titles might end with a question mark or an exclamation mark if that is appropriate, but not in a period. Titles written in other languages are capitalized and punctuated according to different rules, and writers should consult the MLA Guide or their instructors.
Number your pages consecutively throughout the manuscript (including the first page) in the upper right-hand corner of each page, one-half inch from the top. Type your last name before the page number. Most word processing programs provide for a "running head," which you can set up as you create the format for the paper, at the same time you are establishing things like the one-inch margins and the double-spacing. This feature makes the appearance and consistency of the page numbering a great convenience. Make sure the page number is always an inch from the right-hand edge of the paper (flush with the right-hand margin of your text) and that there is a double-space between the page number and the top line of text. Do not use the abbreviation p. or any other mark before the page number.
Tables and Figures:
Tables should be labeled "Table," given an Arabic numeral, and captioned (with those words flush to the left-hand margin). Other material such as photographs, images, charts, and line-drawings should be labeled "Figure" and be properly numbered and captioned.
Generally, the simpler the better. Why spend money on gimmicky, unwieldy, slippery binders, when instructors prefer nice, flat stacks of papers they can stuff into their briefcases and backpacks? A simple staple in the upper left-hand corner of your paper should suffice, although the MLA Guide suggests that a paper clip can be removed and this facilitates reading (which suggests to us that it's been a long time since the people at MLA have had to deal with stacks of student papers). Your instructors or their departments may have their own rules about binders, and you should consult with them about this matter.