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What is Plagiarism?


While writing a research paper, term essay, dissertation, or coursework, you will definitely use numerous secondary and primary sources.  Referencing primary sources is easy enough because information was collected by you, not others.  However, referencing secondary sources is more complicated:  you need to give full credit to authors whose works you used.  For example, if you writing a research paper on video game violence or research paper on learning styles, you can conduct primary research (field observation or survey) as well as refer to reliable journal articles and books.  Why do you need to use secondary information?  You need to use secondary information to generate research paper topic ideas and to support your points of view with reliable sources.  If you fail to reference used works, you are at risk of getting zero on your research paper because of plagiarism.

What is plagiarism?  Research paper plagiarism is usage of secondary sources without referencing authors.  For example, you used one book to generate research paper ideas but did not quote directly: you still have to reference the source because you used someone's work.  Even though some of the styles do not require referencing sources which were not directly quoted in-text, we strongly advise to include all consulted works into bibliography list. Bibliography list should appear at the end of your research essay, be arranged in alphabetical order, and follow the specific requirements of style (MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, etc.). 

Why should you be concerned with plagiarism?  Plagiarism is cheating, stealing of ideas.  You would not like someone stealing your research paper and presenting it as his/her own, would you?  If you want to ensure that your research paper is plagiarism free, check your writing for the following elements:

  • List of all books, articles, and publications used for research paper writing
  • You know from which source information came
  • Quoted phrased or sentences are put in quotation marks and referenced
  • Summaries and paraphrased ideas are references in-text and at the end of essay
  • Proper citation and referencing style is followed

Plagiarism can be unintentional.  For example, you wrote your own research paper but some of the sentences came up very similar to the text you have read but you did not reference the original source.  It is unintentional plagiarism, however, your tutor will not investigate whether or not plagiarism was intentional and you will get F.  You do not want to risk, do you?  To avoid plagiarism you need to keep track where the information came from.  Thus, while using someone's work or ideas, reference the source immediately.  The best way to do this is to put the name of the author, title, date, and page number.  Later you will revise reference list to meet the requirements of referencing style. 

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