About Research and Plagiarism
Research and Plagiarism
Part of being an educated adult is knowing when and why to document one's intellectual footsteps. Because in the real world we identify and evaluate the "footprints" of an idea to know whether it's sound and solid, in the University world we encourage those same skills.
No idea comes to us without a heritage: Software packages develop when their designers (or other designers) see the next step to take, or a new opportunity in previously built code. Historians present interpretations of history that agree with, disagree with, or point out flaws in earlier, previously argued interpretations. Scientific advances are made when established ideas are furthered by someone's "new" argument. In each example, people take ideas that have already been built or accepted to build new ideas and new arguments with them.
Our current knowledge and understanding, therefore, relies on the truth and completeness of what came before. Without being able to trust what came before, anything "new" is suspect; its heritage may be unfairly compiled, taken out of its original context, or otherwise altered. Thus, in the University, we document the paper trail, the heritage of our arguments.
Students at Stetson are expected to honor the work of those who have contributed the ideas on which the intellectual community builds. Honor their work by reading it thoroughly, completely, and with careful attention. Honor their work--to which you are adding--by naming their contributions to your ideas. At the University, we teach students the particular forms in which that naming takes place: a specific documentation format is usually required, whether your work is in literature, political science, anthropology, or marine biology.See the Library's resources on documentation formats for assistance.
Because showing your train of thought is essential to being taken seriously as an educated person, and because the integrity of our ideas depends on establishing the integrity of earlier ideas, plagiarism is both unethical and impractical. The Honor System at Stetson is explicit in its description of penalties for plagiarists and others who do not honor the Stetson code of integrity.
Simply and briefly put, academic integrity and honesty are hallmarks of the Stetson education. To use someone else's work or research unethically is to violate the Honor System.
Plagiarism is easy to understand: the use of someone else's words, ideas, or research without proper credit. And plagiarism is easy to avoid: always document your sources. Keep your paper trail current and accurate at all times.
Helpful Suggestions for Students
- Keep accurate records of what you're reading, who the author is, and when the author wrote.
- When taking notes, always put quotation marks around words and phrases you find significant to indicate that the words are the original and not your own.
- When using someone else's words, ideas, or research, always make it clear where your ideas and words start and where your source's ideas and words leave off.
- When drafting an essay, use the quotation marks and the documentation right from the start. Students who draft so quickly that they decide to "just deal with the sources later" are students who inadvertently commit plagiarism.