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So during exams and as of late, I started to informally cite scholars sometimes and as much as possible to backup the written ideas, however and due to the very nature of exams, I am facing the below issues:

  1. Sometimes I memorize ideas almost word-by-word from the textbook or course book, and as a result of answering the exam question, I almost write everything as it is and without paraphrasing or even citing, is that plagiarism? The doctor would definitely identify my answer as being from the book we learned...

  2. Other times, I get some ideas from outside the book and I do cite them in that case, however I do not paraphrase as I am learning by heart the thoughts in order to answer a specific question in the exam, is that plagiarism? (e.g. lack of paraphrasing)

  3. And lastly, since I am memorizing by heart, I sometimes misspell the name of an author or even change a bit of details in his or her idea, is that a bad thing?

marked as duplicate by Kimball, user3209815, scaaahu, Wrzlprmft, Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Jul 5 '16 at 11:52

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    Why not learn to express ideas in your own words? Memorization alone will only get you so far. – Daniel R. Collins Mar 17 '16 at 17:17
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    Nobody asks for exact bibliographies in exams. – vonbrand Mar 17 '16 at 20:19
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I do not think it is necessary to cite or give exact bibliographical information during a written exam. Even in publications, textbook knowledge does not have to be equipped with references.

In more detail:

I almost write everything as it is and without paraphrasing or even citing, is that plagiarism?

I get some ideas from outside the book and I do cite them in that case, however I do not paraphrase as I am learning by heart the thoughts in order to answer a specific question in the exam, is that plagiarism?

What troubles me here is not that you do not cite correctly, but that you just reproduce the exact wording from the textbook. To the examiner, this does only show that you are able to find the relevant section of the textbook to the question, but not that you understood the subject sufficiently to explain it in your own words. With this approach, you are completely lost in essay questions, and later in your thesis.

And lastly, since I am memorizing by heart, I sometimes misspell the name of an author or even change a bit of details in his or her idea, is that a bad thing?

Misspelling the name is certainly not a problem. Changing the ideas depends on what exactly changes, but I think this is a problem that arises from learning by heart instead of learning the theory, facts, and connections therein.

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I almost write everything as it is and without paraphrasing or even citing, is that plagiarism?

Yup -- submitting work created by somebody else (the author of the textbook or course book) without crediting them is absolutely plagiarism. The solution, as you point out, is to cite them.

More worryingly for your educator, reading someone else's content -- even if properly cited -- makes it hard to evaluate whether you've understood the material. If the question is "How does pigeon domestication support the theory of natural selection?", you could quote directly from Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, chapter 1 --- but all that does is show that Darwin understood the connection! It's not clear if you understand the connection and, if I was grading your work, I'd want to know if there's evidence that you understand natural selection well enough to find a connection.

Other times, I get some ideas from outside the book and I do cite them in that case, however I do not paraphrase as I am learning by heart the thoughts in order to answer a specific question in the exam, is that plagiarism? (e.g. lack of paraphrasing)

Direct quotation isn't plagiarism as long as its properly cited; however, as I pointed out earlier, saying "Darwin (1859) believes that the connection between domestic pigeons and natural selection is ..." doesn't tell your evaluator much about whether you understand the connection, which is what they're trying to evaluate.

And lastly, since I am memorizing by heart, I sometimes misspell the name of an author or even change a bit of details in his or her idea, is that a bad thing?

For a closed book exam, definitely not -- it's understandable that you can't cite a work that isn't in front of you. For an open book exam, it would depend on your subject area: I teach biology, and I routinely overlook grammatical, spelling and minor mathematical errors as long as it's clear the student understands the biology they're describing.

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    I am pretty sure that the amount of text that someone can memorize for an exam would fall within fair use (never mind the fact it is being used on an exam, which is almost by definition fair use). – StrongBad Mar 31 '16 at 1:42
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    "(...) is absolutely plagiarism. The solution, as you point out, is to cite them." - I think this claim is absurd. In an exam, it is the expected outcome that knowledge gathered from someone else's work (often, a textbook) is repeated one way or another. As such, it is completely clear from context that citation - literal or otherwise - is happening. I agree asking students to use their own words has advantages, but then, the reason for that request should certainly not be a perceived "copyright violation". Note that exam answers aren't meant to be published (which would make things ... – O. R. Mapper Mar 31 '16 at 5:29
  • ... indeed copyright-relevant), while non-publicly copying parts in the process of learning is (if that is one's learning technique) the entire purpose of the book. I think even pro-restrictive-copyright lobbyists would have a hard time making a case here. – O. R. Mapper Mar 31 '16 at 5:32
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    @Gaurav: I guess that's the point then - I do not consider the assumption that exam answers are the student's "own work" in the sense of "entirely the result of their own creative thinking" valid. In my opinion (at least when considering things based on a CS background), the key objective of an exam is to have students show that they understand how to choose or develop the right solution for a given problem, not to have them learn by heart which exact sokutions or descriptions thereof have appeared before and which ones haven't. Accordingly, I do not see memorizing lists of possible ... – O. R. Mapper Apr 2 '16 at 7:45
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    The first part of this answer is missing an important clause: Submitting work created by someone else in a scenario where you're expected to submit your own work is plagiarism. In an exam where students' answers are supposed to come from material learned in the course, there is no expectation of originality and no requirement of citing the textbook or other course materials. – ff524 Jul 4 '16 at 23:04

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