Department of History



According to the U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use is defined by:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

  3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

"The distinction between 'fair use' and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined," the Copyright Office explains. "There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission." Click on the link above to see more.

As an educational institution IMSA and its students have certain rights in using copyrighted work for classroom purposes. In composing papers, the issue is more clear cut in providing proper attribution to the ideas of others.

Especially if you complete written work at the last moment, the temptation to pass off other people’s work as your own is a great one. But in a culture which rarely values ideas for the sake of ideas, it is crucial to appreciate them at this institution. All of the work you turn in for this course should be your own.

At IMSA, Dr. Smith relies on other people's definitions of plagiarism (and cites them accordingly). Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams in their book The Craft of Research, 2d ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003) explain:

“You plagiarize when, intentionally or not, you use someone else’s words or ideas but fail to credit that person. . . . You plagiarize even when you do credit the source but use its exact words without using quotation marks or block indentation. . . .You [also] plagiarize when you paraphrase a source so closely that anyone putting your work next to it would see that you could not have written what you did without the source at your elbow.”

Claiming as your own the work of others, in whole or in part, will result in an immediate failing grade for the assignment and possibly a referral to the Dean of Students.


As a general rule, more is better. To protect yourself from zealous IMSA instructors watching out for evidence of inadequate research, the best protection is to cite everything. All direct quotes require attributions. Every paragraph of the body of your paper will probably need one.



One more thing. The convention for footnotes is to cite every source will a full citation the first time and to cite in a shorter form successive times. The Ibid. is used only for successive citations of the same source one after the other and then only if the citation is precisely the same (except for page number).


1. Kenneth T. Jackson, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations: A Record of Forty Years (Chicago: Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 1963), 20.

2. Ibid., 31.

3. Bob Friedman, “Antagonistic World Forces Nearing Boiling Point,” Daily Northwestern, September 29, 1936, 1.

4. Jackson, Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 21.