The wide variety of research materials now available on the internet may make plagiarism extremely easy, but the consequences of plagiarism in the research-based writing submitted for educational credit, scholarly publication or other professional purposes can be catastrophic.
Students guilty of plagiarism can earn failing grades or complete expulsion from a course, degree programme or university, while researchers accused of misconduct can face article retractions and lose employment, research funding, intellectual reputation and professional status.
It may seem that you are writing ‘According to Smith,’ ‘In a study by Jones’ and the like far too many times, but it is essential to distinguish the ideas you find in sources from your own thoughts.
• Provide accurate in-text citations or note citations whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarise or otherwise use sources.
Be sure to distinguish in those notes your own thoughts and interpretations from the words and ideas you find in sources.
• Record the bibliographical information for every source you consult.It is also a good idea not to overuse direct quotation, so choose your quotations wisely.• Check your use of sources carefully once your paper is drafted.Be accurate and thorough, and ensure that this information appears along with your notes on each source.Citation software may prove helpful for organising and managing this information.Either way, the destruction of a valuable and rewarding career is often the result.Although intentional plagiarism may seem worse in an ethical sense than unintentional plagiarism, the fact is that both kinds of plagiarism can produce equally unpleasant results and must be strictly avoided when writing research papers.In all cases, it should be obvious which ideas and data are your own and which have been borrowed from other researchers.• Acknowledge the sources of any tables, images, graphs, charts, maps, audio recordings, videos, animations or similar material that you use or reproduce in your paper.• Consult several sources on a topic to obtain a wider perspective and develop your own thoughts and conclusions.Using only one source can lead to unintentional plagiarism.