Matias Piipari is the CEO and co-founder of the recently launched Manuscripts, an app that helps researchers write and lightly navigate and structure elaborate research papers. Matias is also the CTO of Papers, the makers of a reference manager instrument popular among researchers (founded by Alexander Griekspoor, the other co-founder of Manuscripts). After a PhD […]
Also, towards the end all references used are cited in the reference list or bibliography with total publication details including authors name, date of publication. page and paragraph number, location of publication with name of publication house. Many more information like name f exact publication is also included in a pre-decided format termed as styles of referencing .
- Add quotes with decent references.
- Cite pre published works as and where needed.
- Paraphrase ideas.
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Chris Weigl. Writer. Founder LH Productions.
As long as you’re citing correctly you shouldn’t have any issue with plagirism at all. I’m guessing this isn’t an argumentative paper that you’re writing since you seem to be suggesting that as your hypothetical. Thus, all you truly should be focusing on is putting together solid writing. Good writing is good style. There are authors I read that write about things I have no interest in simply because they have a unique way of writing that will inform me on different ways of putting sentences together. Your sentences are what you want to concentrate on. Good sentences make good paragraphs. Good paragraphs – if put into a well-defined structure – make good writing.
Here’s a paragraph from a novel I’m working on:
I attempted not to visually cringe when the Captain gave the order. He went down to the cabin to get some Scotch or something. Only a sailor would begin drinking before the sun came up.
There are a lot of different ways you can communicate that information. My writing style tends to be more conversational thus in the 2nd sentence when I say: “Scotch or something” it’s not a big deal that the “or something” part is a part of how we make conversation today. I’m also using what looks and sounds like sentence fragments in my last two sentences. That’s done because the effect I’m going for is comedic. I could have thrown a semi-colon in there, but who laughs when a semi-colon is involved? This kind of analysis could go on and on. The truth is tho’ that there are a lot parts of those sentences that are used fairly a bit in everyday speech. “Gave the order” is used fairly a bit, I mentioned the “or something” part of the 2nd sentence, and “the sun came up,” is another turn of phrase that’s used a lot in our society. What I’m worried with in my writing isn’t plagiarism because only a lunatic is going to look through 100,000 words and argue that these turns of phrase constitute plagiarism. What I’m worried with is what effect I want to have on the reader. That’s what you should be looking to do as well especially in an academic paper.
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Bill Larson. As an attorney, I read and write for a living. The words we use matter.
The rules for what constitutes plagiarism are similar in a few respects to the rules governing copyright, with significant differences. The words used in a unique published expression are specifically copyrightable. Likewise the words used in one person’s scholarly work, if copied by another and introduced as their own, constitute plagiarism. To attribute the words of others to their correct author is to avoid both plagiarism and copyright disturbance. Beyond that, tho’, there are some challenges or gray areas.
It is not truly possible to copyright an idea. To protect ideas, one must file for patent protection, assuming there is a formula or construction that is patentable. Trademark is a limited form of idea protection. If you were to switch the wording but retain the idea of an author, you would generally be able to copyright your wording as unique. If you switched the words and tune of a song, but kept the same idea, you would not have committed any form of disturbance; you would have simply written a fresh song!
Plagiarism is different from copyright at this point. If a person has used the ideas of another person and simply switched the words so the end result would not be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, there would still be the possibility that they would be committing plagiarism if they turned the work in as their own. It would not be word-for-word plagiarism, but it would be a form that is sometimes called patchwork or mosaic plagiarism. It is to pass of the work of another as one’s own. It is lazy. To avoid the charge, the student or researcher must attribute quotes to the authors, and acknowledge and present the original ideas of another with attribution. In academia, one’s reputation for thinking clearly and originally is ruined if it turns out that they truly took the work of others without attribution and passed it off as their own. It is even possible to commit self-plagiarism, the passing off of one’s previous published or academically requested work as if it was freshly original for the current project, without attribution or even permission from original commissioning authority.
Another distinction would be that it is possible to fully attribute work and still be guilty of a copyright disturbance. Where the amount of another author’s work copied and quoted is over the amount considered under the Fair Use Doctrine to be permissible under the (varying) circumstances, then it can be a disturbance of that doctrine, and subject the quoter to a claim of copyright disturbance. At some point these ideas merge into that one word, “fair.” It is not considered fair play to use another’s work without appropriately acknowledging the author’s rights to compensation, attribution, and total creative ownership.
In the laws of evidence followed in U.S. courts there is another concept that comes into play for the part of the question that concerns notoriety. I once had a professor who said that scholarship was nothing more than one person digging bones out of others’ graves and reburying them. Yes, everything comes from somewhere, and most ideas have been written about before in some form. So why isn’t everything just presumed to be plagiarism on some level? Isn’t everything just bones being reshuffled? Well, there is a form of information that is considered so commonly known and notoriously understood that courts are permitted to accept it as fact without formal proof. The judge can be asked to take judicial notice of such a fact.
And this is the balance, the tightrope that the scholar must walk. Where is the boundary inbetween what can be presumed and what must be attributed, inbetween what can just be stated, and what has to be explained with footnotes? I think it’s safe to be careful to attribute as long as there is any question about the notoriety of a fact.
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Very first I’ll tackle your comment about history. Most people have read about history elsewhere but then again there is archaeology. I’m not being snarky about your wording here it is more that you have hit upon your reaction without even realising it.
So archaeology and history is the metaphor of choice here (at least for a bit).
If I find an artefact when digging (lets go big) say a ritually placed skull. I have found something that isn’t written about. Until I tell anyone I am the only person in the world who knows about it. There is likely no mention of it in no history book at all ever. This is a fact that I am the source of. I can write about the skull and why I came to the conclusion I did about ritual. I would point out the visible lack of mandible and vertebrae thus displaying the skull had to have been from a person who had no soft tissue left. The skulls placing and stones in its eyes can be logically deduced to be the product of human interaction rather than a natural occurrence.
All of that needs no references if I am factually describing it as I am the source of the fact. I could speculate about the why and wherefore of the particular deposit which would also need no reference material as it would be my opinions and deductions. Photos could be used such as:
The dark bit on the left of the 2nd picture is where the skull was found.
I can go on to describe the photos. I can discuss the factual information in the picture such as the scales in the top picture and the soil colour differences in the 2nd picture.
Still no references. Would this be a good lump of writing? Well that depends on what you are attempting to say or do with the writing. the process I described above is something that would be in a formal report of the archaeology on the particular site. That report is the very first step towards a research paper.
A research paper would reference these findings providing the credit to me in this particular case (or the author of the report depending on reference but those technicalities are another question). So how do you write without flooding with references?
Have an opinion.
The references are there as a leaping board. For example the above pictures would be a lump of information used to write about the use of Bronze age wood. What you thought about that wood or could deduce from the photos would be your conclusions. References can be used to back up the conclusions you have come to from the evidence as well. So in the above case you would reference the factual breakdown in the original work. Then have an opinion on it and then say the author of the work (or preferably that author and another author that agrees) has come to the same conclusion as you.
The trick is therefore to discuss. Take the research and discuss the following:
- Its meaning.
- Its reliability
- Whether it agrees or disagrees with another author (then say what you think).
- Whether there is enough evidence for the conclusions of other scholars.
All of these will be your thoughts and while they may be similar to those that other people have had you can back up your opinions by citing the other scholars.
Hope that helps!
(please note the pictures are from the author’s private collection and are not to be reproduced without explicit permission)
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