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Student Resources

Quoting and Paraphrasing

Quoting

This exercise is based on an excerpt from the 10th edition of The English Legal System.

What is wrong with the following quote taken by a student from the second sentence of section 1.3.4 in Slapper and Kelly's The English Legal System?

At one level the division relates specifically to actions of the state and it's functionaries vis-à-vis the individual citizen, and the legal manner in which, such relationships are regulated; public law.
Answer
  1. There is no comma after ‘level’
  2. ‘state’ should begin with a capital ‘S’.
  3. ‘It's’ is spelt wrongly. It should be spelt ‘its’.
  4. Missing words are not been replaced by an ellipsis (‘…’)
  5. A Semi-colon (;) is used instead of a colon (:), after the word ‘regulated’
  6. The quote is missing a full and accurate citation to Slapper and Kelly's textbook, which must also include the page reference to the page on which the quote appears (page 5).

The full and accurate quotation should read as one of the following:

At one level, the division relates specifically to actions of the State and its functionaries vis-à-vis the individual citizen, and the legal manner in which … such relationships are regulated: public law.1
At one level, the division relates specifically to actions of the State and its functionaries vis-à-vis the individual citizen, and the legal manner in which, and form of law through which, such relationships are regulated: public law.2
Slapper and Kelly (2009) state that ‘At one level, the division relates specifically to actions of the State and its functionaries vis-à-vis the individual citizen, and the legal manner in which, and form of law through which, such relationships are regulated: public law’ (page 5).

Slapper and Kelly (2009) state that:

At one level, the division relates specifically to actions of the State and its functionaries vis-à-vis the individual citizen, and the legal manner in which, and form of law through which, such relationships are regulated: public law (page 5.)

A full and accurate citation should be inserted in the bibliography or references and the end of the assessment, such as:

Gary Slapper & David Kelly The English Legal System 10th Edition 2009–2010 (Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009).

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a summary of what an author or other source is saying, but written in your own words. It is the way of encapsulating ideas that you have found, but which are not your own.

An example of a short paraphrase of Slapper and Kelly's first full paragraph in the excerpt from The English Legal System is as follows:

Example 1

Slapper and Kelly argue that there is disagreement about the differences between public and private law.3 Indeed, they argue that A V Dicey did not believe that such a distinction existed, even as late at the 19th century. They suggest that public law appears to be defined as the law that regulates the relationship between the individual and the state and that judicial review plays a key role in public law matters.

Example 2

Slapper and Kelly argue that there is disagreement about the differences between public and private law (2009: at page 5). Indeed, they argue that A V Dicey did not believe that such a distinction existed, even as late at the 19th century. They suggest that public law appears to be defined as the law that regulates the relationship between the individual and the state and that judicial review plays a key role in public law matters.

This summary aims to capture the essence of what Slapper and Kelly are saying, but in my own words. It provides a reference to Slapper and Kelly's original text, and attributes the ideas to them. It strips out some of the detail, so that only the key points remain.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is taking someone else's words or ideas and using them as if they were your own. In real terms, what this means is copying others words or ideas and not providing quotation marks around the words that you have used and/or failing to provide a full and accurate citation to the sources.

An example of plagiarism from the first full paragraph of 1.3.4 would be as follows:

Example

There is no one way of explaining the differences between public and private law. Indeed, it was at least possible to claim, as A V Dicey did, that there is no such thing as public law in the nineteenth century. But the growth of public law has mirrored the growth and increased activity of the contemporary State, and the division relates to the actions of the State and its officials compared with individual citizens.4 There are other ways of defining the differences too.

The first full sentence is acceptable as it is the student's own work. However, the second sentence is, essentially, taken word for word in sections from Slapper and Kelly's paragraph on page 5. This would be classed as plagiarism as the student has neither attributed the ideas to Slapper and Kelly by providing a footnote or reference, or put quotation marks around the bulk of the sentence to demonstrate that the words are Slapper and Kelly's. Some Universities would consider this to be poor scholarship if the student had put a full and accurate citation, but failed to put the quotation marks around the words that were used. Others would consider the lack of quotation marks to be sufficient to constitute plagiarism even if a full and accurate citation or footnote was given at the end of that sentence.

The third sentence has similar problems, except that it combines the words and ideas from later in the paragraph with those of earlier in the paragraph. However, it does provide a full citation to the source of the ideas. The student needed to summarise the ideas in their own words or instead quote from the text enclosing the words in quotation marks to show that they were not their own.

The final sentence is the student's own work, although as a sentence it is not entirely successful as it does not add much to the earlier sentences and neither is it a conclusion to the paragraph.

Further guidance is provided in Chapter 6 of Legal Writing, including some examples.

  1. Gary Slapper & David Kelly The English Legal System 10th Edition 2009–2010 (Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009) at page 5.
  2. G. Slapper & D. Kelly The English Legal System 10th Edition 2009–2010 (Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009) at p, 5.
  3. Gary Slapper & David Kelly The English Legal System 10th Edition 2009–2010 (Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009) at page 5.
  4. Gary Slapper & David Kelly The English Legal System 10th Edition 2009–2010 (Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009) at page 5.
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