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I'm currently about to finish my BA thesis, and my topic is bullying. I have read several books, studies, and such that can be connected to my topic. I finished the literature review, but haven't touched it since. However, when I recently re-read it and looked at the sources, I have found that a lot of my sub-chapters in my lit. review are really similar to those in the literature. For instance, in the work I read, the author mentions the consequences of bullying and I also have a sub-chapter dedicated to this. Or for example, I have read about strain theory in another one of the studies that I have also included and wrote about in one of my sub-chapters. I did not include every single aspect of these particular studies, just specific parts that I found relevant in my study.

My question is the following: Is this considered plagiarism?

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Plagiarism is taking the work or ideas of others and presenting it as your own. If you have a sub chapter on topic X and somebody else has a sub chapter on that too, that doesn't make it plagiarism. E.g every 2nd grade math text probably has one chapter on addition and one chapter on multiplication. That doesn't mean they are plagiarizing each other, it's just the natural way to split up the material. What would be plagiarism is if you got the idea to have a sub chapter on topic X from reference Y but you did not cite reference Y and you made it sound like you personally came up with the idea of a sub chapter on X on your own. As long as you've cited your sources properly you should be fine.

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    +1 I think anyone writing at length about bullying would have a section on the consequences of bullying. On the other hand, if someone organises information in a non-obvious and novel way, and you decide to make use of it, then you should cite it. – mhwombat May 9 at 23:21
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Perhaps it is, depending on how you present it. But you avoid plagiarism by citing the source of the information and making it clear to a reader that what you say is derived from some specific source.

It may be that all you need to do is to go through your document and add citations, say at the end of paragraphs. It seems like you have paraphrased things you found elsewhere. That can be fine, but you still need to be clear on the source.

If your thesis is more than just a summary of the existing knowledge, make sure that a reader can tell what is your own work and what is derived directly from others. And if it is a summary, make sure that that itself is clear.

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  • You don't clean up paraphrases by pasting citations at the end of paragraphs. You need to make the BEGINNING and the END clear. "Smith says ..... [13, p. 42]. Smith continues to insist that ..... [13, p. 36]. On the other hand, Jones observes that .... [42, p. 13]" Just slapping some sort of reference on the end does not help. And please be kind to your reader and include the page number. – Debora Weber-Wulff May 11 at 21:28

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