Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism

What is Research?

In every field of study, there are those who have blazed a trail of inquiry and, in so doing, advanced the general knowledge of the world in which we live. Research is an active process of learning from these trailblazers. Look upon your own project as an exploration of what they thought, discovered, created or, in any way added to the body of knowledge prior to your entry into the same field of study.

Look at your research project as a quest for answers to a central question, or set of related questions, that will further your own understanding of the world. Look at it also as an opportunity to contribute something of value to the already existing body of knowledge or the ongoing conversation among other individuals investigating the same topic.

It should be fun. Pick a topic in which you are particularly interested or curious and the journey will be that much more interesting. As you read, study, and absorb ideas and facts from others, write them down. Keep detailed notes on your sources. Who said what? In which journal was it published? Why, when, where, who, etc.

As a researcher and a writer you must credit these sources. Whenever you incorporate a general concept, idea, quotation, statistic, fact, illustration, graph or data that is not your own, it must be acknowledged. Failure to do so is plagiarism.

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