Use ideas and information from others to support and strengthen your arguments or analyses. That is what research is all about—finding out what is already known, assembling it in a new way with other ideas, and then adding your own new insights. Knowledge is a pyramid that many people build over time, building upon the ideas of one another.
If we did not borrow and build on one another’s ideas, science would never advance nor would a company. However, don’t overuse the work of others. Your paper should not be primarily filled with a collection of quotes and paraphrases. Communicate your view of the topic as supported by others.
It is as important to identify or cite the source for information you use as it is to use the information.
Here are reasons to cite your sources:
- For the reader, the source lends credibility on the strength of the source. Thus the citation allows the reader to evaluate the quality of information you are using to build your arguments. It also allows the reader to look up the original works to learn more.
- The authors, it is giving credit for the work they have done–or their “intellectual property.”
- For you, it is honesty. Information has value like money. If you take someone’s money without permission, it is called theft. It is called “plagiarism” when you steal or use someone else’s ideas—using another’s ideas or words without acknowledging them. Penalties for stealing someone’s ideas, on purpose or by accident, are failing the assignment or course, or dismissal from the university. We take it seriously!
This section will help you recognize when you have committed plagiarism in your writing. It also includes some ways to avoid plagiarism. Finally, there are some concrete examples of plagiarized and non-plagiarized writing to help you.