Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

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Gamecubesupreme
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Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:21 pm

If I want to use an article because the article cited a string of on-point cases, would it be considered plagiarism if I cited those cases directly without giving credit to the original article for finding them?

My topic is slightly different than the original article, but the string of cases the article cited supports one of my preliminary statements.

Do I HAVE to cite the article as well or can I directly cite the string of cases?

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:28 pm

If the original article supports your assertion, you could cite that and then include a "(citing . . .)." Or you could just use the string cite (consider adding or removing sources from the string cite to make it more on point to your assertion). I don't think it's plagiarism at all--profs rely on the research done in other articles all the time for the articles they're writing. There is no method for citing profs for having a helpful article that cites a lot of important on point cases/articles and it's not necessary.

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Gamecubesupreme
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:40 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:If the original article supports your assertion, you could cite that and then include a "(citing . . .)." Or you could just use the string cite (consider adding or removing sources from the string cite to make it more on point to your assertion). I don't think it's plagiarism at all--profs rely on the research done in other articles all the time for the articles they're writing. There is no method for citing profs for having a helpful article that cites a lot of important on point cases/articles and it's not necessary.


Thanks man.

lawyerdown27
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby lawyerdown27 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:03 am

Agreed. You can always throw the article a "for a blah blah discussion of so and so, see . . . "

MinEMorris
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby MinEMorris » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:04 am

I'm actually glad to have this answered. I've run into the same problem before.

I have a slightly related question, so I'll hijack this thread a little if the OP allows and ask:

When writing a memo or brief, if you find an unbroken paragraph or two in a secondary source that explain a point of law really effectively, do people tend to cite directly to the secondary source, or do people tend to paraphrase and steal the citations from the secondary source? Citing secondary sources, especially when they provide primary authority for their propositions, seems like it would come across as lazy and ineffective at inspiring confidence in the reader. I know it's also just bad practice to cite to persuasive authority when primary authority exists. At the same time, writing one or two paragraphs that are thinly veiled paraphrasings of an existing secondary source and using the exact same citations as the source seems disingenuous. Anyone have thoughts or a nifty solution I haven't considered? My solution in the past has been to paraphrase in a way that breaks an apparent, direct connection to the secondary source, but I hate doing this when the secondary source is really well written and its phrasing/sequence of points is the most effective and logical way to present the information.

Edit: Come to think of it, same problem when a court explains something really effectively. Obviously you can just cite the whole paragraph in that case, but I know block quotes are poison to reader patience.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:34 am

In a brief - something submitted to a court - I will paraphrase the secondary source and cite only to the underlying cases, unless the secondary source is absolutely the only thing out there that says what I need (in which case it's scarcely persuasive but beggars can't be choosers), or unless the jurisdiction I need has relied on that secondary source (in which case I'll also cite where the court cites to it, but I might also include the secondary source). I don't think it's disingenuous to paraphrase - you used the secondary source in the appropriate fashion, which is to identify the authority that's on point; you cite to the authority. Only case law binds the court you're writing to, so you always want to cite case law. And you don't want to include cites you don't need.

Sometimes you run into a secondary source that's not really reporting the state of the law, but arguing for a certain interpretation. Again, if there's no real case law that supports your position, but the secondary source authors make the argument supporting you, and it's, say, a treatise that's been around forever and is well-respected, I might cite it in that situation. Especially if it has really great language. But it would always be a last resort. Or, possibly, if you're making a policy argument and you find, say, a law review article arguing for your position, I might cite that. But again, case law is always best. (I am currently a clerk and basically, when a party cites a secondary source, especially a LR article, I think, "Oh, you have no law in support of your position." I will only go look at that secondary stuff if my research shows that there really is no established law in this area at all. And when writing opinions, we'd only ever cite to, say, a LR article in a footnote, as a reference to something interesting but not at all binding. And I've only done that at the appellate level, not trial.)

I might be more likely to cite a secondary source in a memo, because its purpose is a little different. I would still primarily cite to all the relevant case law - because the person reading the memo will probably want that - but I might add a "see also" cite to a secondary source in a memo, so that if the person who gets the memo wants to see more about what an established treatise has to say about a topic, they have the reference. (I would be unlikely to cite to something like ALR or CJ; more likely to cite to something with a named author, like Mueller & Kirkpatrick for Evidence or the like. Or a LR article.) This would also depend a little on the person giving me the assignment and what the assignment was for. I have had assignments that asked me to go on, essentially, policy fishing expeditions. I might cite secondary stuff there, especially for a more academically-minded person. I have also had assignments that were very much, give me the basic law on this issue, with case citations and parentheticals - that is, chunks the person could slot into whatever they were writing. In such a case, secondary stuff is usually much less helpful.

As for when the court explains something really effectively: if it's a really good, succinct statement of the law, like a 5-part test or something, I'll just cite it in a block quote. It is better to avoid them, generally, but not to the point where you're artificially breaking up a useful quote that clearly states the law you need to apply, or where the language is basic enough it's hard to paraphrase. If it's more of a "here's why Constitutional right X is so important!!!!!" statement, I'll try really hard to keep it under 50 words because it's easy to get self-indulgent with that.

MinEMorris
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby MinEMorris » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:40 am

As always, you're a hero, anonymouse! Thank you!!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:11 pm

Heh. Any time! (I love procrastinating... :oops: )

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Bluebook question regarding possible plagiarism.

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:34 pm

Long story shorter - it's never plagiarism to cite an original source for a proposition contained in that source, even if you found the original source in a secondary source.




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