Misrepresenting and misquoting

What is it?

Misrepresentation and misquoting is when the words or ideas of the original author have been misrepresented. This may happen inadvertedly if you have misunderstood what the original author meant. This is poor scholarship.

Misrepresentation and misquoting can also be deliberate when a student intentionally misuses the words of the original author to justify their own work. This is extremely poor scholarship and could constitute academic misconduct.

Scholarship example

Original referenced text

The shifting fortunes of war had a terrible impact, and not just on those who were killed or maimed in the fighting. When the republican General Custine's forces took the city of Mainz in the Rhineland in October 1792, local patriots created a Society of Friends of Liberty and Equality with five hundred members, adapted their own version of the 'Marseillaise', the 'Bürgerlied der Mainzer', and planted a liberty tree (McPhee, 2016, p. 182).

Text used with permission. McPhee, P. (2016). Liberty or death: The French revolution. London: Yale University Press.

✘ Plagiarism and poor scholarship

Tree planting was a popular trend in the city of Mainz around 1792. These groups of tree planters may be seen as early forerunners of the environmentalist movement in Europe (McPhee, 2016).


Clearly the words of the author have been twisted to justify an unrelated point. Always remain faithful to the intent of the original author. You should not try to manipulate the meaning of another person's words to suit your own purposes.

Misrepresentation can be avoided simply by doing good research.  Your argument should follow thorough research of a topic. If you arrive at your conclusions first, it will be difficult to find evidence to support your argument. This reflects poor scholarship in the research and writing process.

All forms of plagiarism