Friday 8 January 2010

Plagiarism: Making notes from papers during your research

When writing essays, you will read many papers and make lots of notes. During this process, you have to be careful, as there is the danger that you can accidentally copy material from a paper to your notes and then from your notes to your final write-up and, therefore, plagiarise.

When you are making notes from a paper for your own personal use there is no problem in copying from the paper to your notebook, word-for-word. At least that way, you know you have the information correct...

However, when you return to your notes some days or weeks later, you may forget you have copied word-for-word from the paper and think your notes are all your own work and, hence, can be used directly in your write-up. The result is that you plagiarise.

When you make your notes mark the notes that are 'word-for-word' in a way so that you know they are copied, so you don't inadvertently use them in your final write-up. Put the notes in inverted commas or underline them. Do something to make them stand out and help you remember that they are copied and, therefore, can't be used directly in your final work.

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