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Citing Sources and Resources
A Copyright Overview

What is Plagiarism?

The concept of plagiarism centres around the act of taking someone else's ideas and presenting them as one's own. Plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property and a form of copyright infringement. It is viewed by many educational institutions as an act of academic misconduct involving serious ethical and legal issues.

At the University of New Brunswick, plagiarism is defined as:

quoting verbatim or almost verbatim from a source (such as copyrighted material, notes, letters, business entries, computer materials, etc.) without acknowledgment;

adopting someone else's line of thought, argument, arrangement, or supporting evidence (such as, for example, statistics, bibliographies, etc.) without indicating such dependence;

submitting someone else's work, in whatever form (film, workbook, artwork, computer materials, etc.) without acknowledgment;

knowingly representing as one's own work any idea of another.

That University has further noted:

The attention of students is directed particularly to the fact that scholarly practice requires that all material derived from secondary sources other than that which is common knowledge must be acknowledged in each particular instance by a footnote or other appropriate reference; the mere citing of a work in a bibliography does not constitute adequate acknowledgment for specific instances of quotation or paraphrase. The presentation of material in any way which produces the impression that the material is the student's own work rather than that of someone else constitutes an act of plagiarism, for which severe academic penalties will be imposed.

Just because you can access it, copy it, paste it, download and upload it, or buy it from a term paper mill and put your name on it does not make it "your work".

Avoiding plagiarism or the appearance of plagiarism begins with good note-taking practices.

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Where Do Citations Come From?

Citations are a natural by-product of a good literature or bibliographic search -- they come from the results your search produces. They may be found, collectively, in bibliographic databases and citation indexes. They may be derived from statistical databases and other data collections. They may make reference to individual books, periodicals (journals, magazines and newspapers), working papers, and technical reports. They may be gathered from compilations such as bibliographies or appear in lists of works cited and references. Citation may also be produced in reference to material you read or heard, to images you discover, and to all kinds of electronic files which are displayed, read, played, or otherwise accessed.

To structure citations appropriately it helps to have a good guide. There are several standard guides which can help you. In university, choosing the "best" one will depend on the requirements of the assignment, the nature of the contents and the preferences of the individual professor. Some guides emphasize a particular discipline, some are cross-discipline and some may emphasize a particular form of material. For instance:

Cross-discipline: A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, often succinctly known as Turabian, and the Chicago Manual of Style are popular. Sample bibliographic entries are available through Chicago Manual of Style (Author / Date System), Writing@CSU and Chicago Manual of Style (Notes System), Writing@CSU

Sciences: For an overview of this style, see: CSE Style: Biology and Other Sciences, Sciences: Documenting Sources, Diana Hacker, Bedford / St. Martin's

Psychology, sociology and the social sciences: For an overview of this style, see: APA Style: The Social Sciences, Social Sciences: Documenting Sources, Diana Hacker, Bedford / St. Martin's and APA Style, American Psychological Association

Humanities, literature, and the arts: MLA Style: English and Other Humanities, Humanities: Documenting Sources, Diana Hacker, Bedford / St. Martin's

Medicine: The American Medical Association Manual of Style is a standard choice. Sample bibliographic entries are available through: American Medical Association (AMA) Citation Style, James Madison University. You could also consult: Citing Medicine, The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 2007

Law: For an overview of legal citation, see: Introduction to Basic Legal Citation, Peter W. Martin, Cornell Law School, and Introduction to Legal Citation, Murdoch University Library, Murdoch University School of Law, among others

Government documents and publications: See, for instance: Citing Records in the National Archives of the United States, General Information Leaflet Number 17, NARA, and A Citation Manual for European Community Materials, Fordham International Law Journal

Additional information can be found at: Citing Sources and Resources

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Why Do You Need Citations?

One of your goals in citing your sources and resources is to avoid plagiarism and the appearance of plagiarism. However, there are other reasons as well.

Citations form an important part of the research record. They enhance and add to knowledge by allowing others to follow your "research trail". They lend value, weight and worth to your ideas and allow you to give credit where credit is due.

Citing sources and resources helps you protect yourself if, for instance, the statements you used to produce that term paper turn out to be in error.

When beginning any project, plan on needing citations. Do all your searching, and recording, with that in mind. Construct a running search history of where you looked and how you looked. Keep good notes (or let the computer keep them for you) of sources you read or discovered and what you thought of them. If you jotted down a phrase or an idea that you might wish to use later, you will need a citation. Some databases will help you do this. Business Source Elite, for example, lets you email citations and gives you persistent urls so you can return to the material.

Don't check your brain at the door. Searching, and researching, really is a "thinking thing". Know what you want to prove going in; have a solid hypothesis. Evaluate both your sources and resources for relevance to the assignment and their ability to inform you and your reader. Choose wisely. Look for books, scholarly journal articles, government publications, statistical data, and other types of information. Develop more than one perspective on your topic. Ask yourself if you really need five more sources which say exactly the same thing as the other four you have found or if finding different (and equally valid) theories and opinions might be more useful.

There are some occasions when no citation to a source is necessary. Usually, this situation occurs when what you are saying is factual, generally known, standard and well-documented information. For instance, if you were to say

Christmas is on December 25th,

Christmas is on a Saturday in 2004,

or even

Santa Claus delivers toys to good little boys and girls (this may not be a fact, but it is certainly a well-known piece of information)

you likely would not need any citation.

Other occasions definitely call for citations. Remember, the exact form of the citation depends on the style you are following. (The examples below use a mix of styles for purposes of illustration.)

Cite a source when using derived / constructed information / facts. For instance, if you were to say:

Less than xx% of Americans voted in the last election.

X number of Canadians live within x kilometres of the US-Canadian border.

Mount St Helen's is predicted to explode in the next 24 hours.

you will likely need supporting evidence. At first glance, these items may look like "facts", but they may involve conclusions on the part of the author or reliance on a number of non-obvious or unstated criteria. There may be a lot of room for argument in each.

Cite a source when using a direct quote. For instance:

"Electronic Music Distribution (EMD) usually refers to the technical issues of transporting music data across networks, copy protection, and copyright management." (Pachet et al., 2004, p. 1037)
Pachet, Francois et al. (2004). "Popular Music Access: The Sony Music Browser." JASIST, 55(12), 1037-1044.

Cite a source when using a direct quote (parenthetical reference). For instance:

Cain (2002) says
Kyllo suggests that in the United States, the government cannot accomplish through technological means that which would otherwise be unconstitutional if done through old-fashioned police footwork. (p.26)
Cain, Rita Marie. "Global Privacy Concerns and Regulation Is the United States a World Apart?" International Review of Law, Computers & Technology. 16 (2002): 23-34

Cite a source when using someone else's "pattern of ideas" or "train of thought". For instance:

There are four protocol goals of participants. They are: confidentiality; authentication; non-repudiation and third party agreement. Each can be defined in terms of their participants.¹
1. Joshua D. Guttman, "Authentication tests and disjoint encryption: A design method for security protocols," Journal of Computer Security, 12 (2004): 410-411

Cite a source when paraphrasing / summarizing (parenthetical reference). For instance:

Pachet (2004) notes that the issues surrounding EMD include copy protection and copyright management. He goes on to explain that ...
Pachet, Francois et al. (2004). "Popular Music Access: The Sony Music Browser." JASIST, 55(12), 1042-1047

Of course, proper citations do not, on their own, make a good paper. Strings of properly cited quotations or parenthetical summary statements will not convince your readers that you know how to integrate, extrapolate, evaluate and create new information.

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This page copyright, created and maintained by Linda Hansen.
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Created: 1998/01/02 Last updated: 2014/05/08
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