I was wondering if it would be plagiarism for me to answer a story identification question with direct quotes from the text. For example:

Question: The plot is as follows... The book starts with a girl waking up in a vehicle crash."


The girl’s name is Merlin. She wakes up in the wreck of what she thinks is an ambulance but is actually a “flyer”

She was in the back of a van surrounded by blankets, pieces of broken glass and unfamiliar implements. Through a dark tinted window under her, running the length of the cabin she could see foliage pressed against the glass. A matching window above showed the sky. Clearly she had been in an accident and the van had overturned.

Ambulance, she thought dazedly. I was in the back of an ambulance so there must have been something wrong with me before the accident.

Is this plagiarism if I state that this is the text from the book?

  • user14111 (our top expert on story-ID questions) does this all the time. It's definitely fine.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Apr 4 '16 at 10:16
  • Thanks - just wanted to make sure!
    – Katdragon
    Apr 4 '16 at 11:43
  • If you edit your deleted answer to include lots of quotes and clear evidence that it's the same book as in the question, let me know and I'll undelete it :-) (Or just post a new answer, of course.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Apr 4 '16 at 11:49
  • Thanks @Randal'Thor I've changed it so hopefully it's good to be undeleted.
    – Katdragon
    Apr 4 '16 at 11:58
  • Done. It's now a really good story-ID answer - nice job!
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Apr 4 '16 at 12:03
  • 1
    Even if not plagiarism, it could be illegal to write a huge quote (e.g. the entire book). But small quotes should be allowed by fair use in the US or similar doctrines in other places.
    – Oriol
    Apr 14 '16 at 6:45




the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

If you explicitly state the text is from the book, then by definition it's not plagiarism.

Even your sample answer should be fine because it's extremely obvious that the quote is meant to be from that particular book. It wouldn't make any sense to include that quote if it was from some other book or if you had just made it up yourself.

It's also very normal for story-id answers to include a quote from or a summary of the original work, since that makes it easier for the OP to tell if it really is the book they were looking for and provides additional information for any future readers of the Q&A.

  • 4
    -1 for not including a source for your dictionary quote. (Kidding, +1.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Apr 4 '16 at 10:54
  • @Rand You pedant you.
    – Möoz
    Apr 4 '16 at 23:17

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