FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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Synthesis

“Synthesis” refers to an essay which combines diverse parts to make a unified whole. The following sample essay combines different scenarios from several published articles.


The excerpts given below from a sample essay employ the following strategies: 

  • Paraphrase – Translating the concept or idea into your own words. Cite the source of the idea.

  • Introduce quotations by a signal phrase.

  • Short quotations – A phrase from the source must be word for word and enclosed by quotation marks.

  • Long quotations should be indented on the left margin and introduced by an explanatory sentence that ends with a colon.

  • Ellipsis: Use three periods to indicate that material was omitted from the quotation.

  • Editorial notes are made in brackets.  

Plagiarism: Deliberate and Otherwise

Plagiarism can occur in a variety of circumstances. In some cases, it can be deliberate; in others, accidental. A series of high-profile plagiarism cases, such as New York Times writer Jason Blair and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, have resulted in near zero tolerance policies at many publishing houses and academic institutions.

In the past, artists sometimes borrowed from their predecessors as a form of homage to those earlier creations. Woody Guthrie, the folk singer and composer, would occasionally riff on other songwriters’ lyrics and melodies.

 

At a concert, his son, singer Arlo Guthrie, having “a little fun with the family legend,” alluded to his father’s practice: [An explanatory sentence introducing long quotation ends with a colon. This sentence incorporates a short quote from the original article as part of the explanatory sentence.]

"It's not one of the ones my dad wrote, so much as one of the ones he stole," Guthrie said, noting Woody's fondness for nicking a traditional gospel lyric or melody. That sort of method used to raise howls of plagiarism, Guthrie added, until "Pete Seeger came along and renamed it `the folk process.' Thank God for Pete." (Boehm)  [Because this long block quote includes exact quotes from Arlo Guthrie, the quotation marks are included around those comments.]

 

 
From the first Lost Angeles Times article

Guthrie could have gone on telling stories without striking up a song, and few in the audience would have minded. Introducing "Ain't Got No Home" from the songbook of his venerated father, Woody, Arlo showed a willingness to have a little fun with the family legend.

"It's not one of the ones my dad wrote, so much as one of the ones he stole," Guthrie said, noting Woody's fondness for nicking a traditional gospel lyric or melody. That sort of method used to raise howls of plagiarism, Guthrie added, until "Pete Seeger came along and renamed it `the folk process.' Thank God for Pete."

 

 

In an ironic twist, Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land,” was recently the object of an intellectual property lawsuit. JibJab, a humorous Web site, created a political parody of the 2004 presidential campaign, using Guthrie’s song as background music. However, the publishing company that owns the rights to the song was not amused and sued JibJab.

The suit was recently settled out of court. [Signal phrase]  According to JibJab’s legal counsel, Fred von Lohmann, “'This Land' is known as an iconic song about national unity, and the JibJab parody is predominantly about the lack of national unity at this time.…It's fair use even if not everyone gets the joke" (California). [This short quotation uses ellipsis to indicate that words were left out. At the end of one sentence, use a period and then three periods for the ellipsis.]
 

Regardless of one’s intention, to avoid lawsuits and the other painful penalties of plagiarism, a writer should clearly credit those responsible for the original content.

 

 
From the second Lost Angeles Times article

JibJab's lawyers said Ludlow was misinterpreting the law and that the song in the cartoon clearly was a parody.

" 'This Land' is known as an iconic song about national unity, and the JibJab parody is predominantly about the lack of national unity at this time," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented JibJab. "It's fair use even if not everyone gets the joke."

 

Works Cited

Boehm, Mike.  “So Timeless, So Timely, So Arlo: Witty Guthrie Honors the Past as Well as the Present at Coach House.” Los Angeles Times  21 Mar. 1991: 3. ProQuest. Falvey Memorial Library, Villanova University. 4 Apr. 2005 .

“California; Suit Settled Over Political Parody; Creators of a Web Cartoon That Uses a Woody Guthrie Classic May Proceed in a Pact with Ludlow Music." Los Angeles Times 26 Aug. 2004: C2.  ProQuest. Falvey Memorial Library, Villanova University. 4 Apr. 2005 <http://proquest.umi.com>


 


Last Modified: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009