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LS 102 Course Materials

Introduction to Information Research

Writing, Citing & Plagiarism

Citing Sources for Academic Research

When doing research for papers and projects, it is necessary to properly acknowledge authors whose work has been used in your end product. This acknowledgement takes place in your writing in the form of parenthetical references, footnotes, endnotes, works cited pages or bibliographies. There are many documentation styles used by a variety of academic disciplines. Some of the standard styles for disciplines are:  

For a list of links to citing sources in APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, AMA, ACS, and Scientific (CBE) styles, please see the Citing Sources page.


Plagiarism is often clear to students only when it involves non-electronic sources. For example, buying a paper from a paper mill to turn in as one's own work is unquestionably plagiarism. Students realize that copying from a book or journal without properly citing the source is plagiarism, but using materials from Web documents seems to be different. Students have the perception that everything on the Web is free, therefore could be no theft involved in taking material that is found there.

However, plagiarism is not limited to any specific format, electronic or non-electronic. The Southeastern Louisiana University Student Handbook defines plagiarism this way:

'Plagiarism' includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes stealing and passing of ideas and/or words of another as one's own; using a created production without crediting the source; the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials; and/or other violations as defined by the Southeastern Louisiana University Dishonesty Policy. (Southeastern Louisiana University)

Furthermore, copyright law protects Web documents. Georgia Harper, a lawyer for the University of Texas, says that people assume that everything on the Web is public domain, probably because the law used to require that copyrighted material display a copyright notice. The law changed, however, and "putting the fingers on the keyboard creates a copyrighted work." She says that copyright protection is automatic, so that postings of all kinds are protected (Harper).

Hopefully, such information will help Southeastern students to understand the details of plagiarism policies at Southeastern, and the penalties for plagiarism. Penalties include a lower grade on a particular paper, an F for the class, and probation, suspension or expulsion from the university. Technology has made apprehension of plagiarizers much easier, too, by the development of copy detection mechanisms for digital documents.