Have you ever wondered why you have to put references (footnotes) in your research papers? When you include a reference, you are indicating that you borrowed the ideas from someone else (either as a direct quotation or a summary of the main ideas). If there is no footnote or other reference, the person reading your paper assumes that the ideas are all yours.

When you borrow an idea from someone else without giving that person credit, you are stealing the idea. This is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is dishonest, a form of academic misconduct.


The EMU catalog talks about plagiarism under a section called "Academic Dishonesty" in the Academic Policies statement.

Click here to read it.



Style Manuals, Or, How to Avoid Plagiarism

There are standard formats to indicate that you are borrowing ideas from other sources, and these can be found in style manuals. Besides telling you how to write footnotes and bibliographies, style manuals also tell you what your margins should be, what should be on the title page of your paper, and lots of other good stuff about writing a research paper. Some examples of style manuals are:

Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide (by James D. Lester)

MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (by the Modern Language Association of America)

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

A Christian Writer's Manual of Style

CBE Style Manual: A Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers in the Biological Sciences

You can see that there are many kinds of style manuals, for different groups of people.

Here at EMU, unless a professor specifies otherwise, you generally should follow the style as presented in Lester's Writing Research Papers. However, it never hurts to ask your professor which style manual you should use - for 2 reasons.

First, you won't have to rewrite your paper because you chose the wrong style manual.
Second, it'll impress the teacher that you know what a style manual is!

Up-to-date style manuals include a section on how to make citations from electronic resources (web sites, e-mail messages, full-text articles online, etc.). Two of these are available from the Internet Resources section of the EMU library home page:

American Psychological Association
Modern Language Association


Copyright Law

The Copyright Law of the United States protects the intellectual property of books, videos, dramas, music, artwork, computer programs, etc. This means that the author holds the legal rights to the ideas, and other people cannot claim credit for the ideas. Other people cannot reproduce the work or put on public displays of the work without permission from the author. To do so is a violation of U.S. law.

Copyright applies to both published and unpublished works. The author does not have to apply for copyright protection; the intellectual property is automatically protected. (Some works are in the public domain, meaning they can be copied freely. However, it is best to assume something is copyright protected unless it can be easily determined that it is in the public domain.)

There are some limits to the Copyright Law. The Law specifies certain situations - called "Fair Use" - when it is permissible to copy or use an author's intellectual property. "Fair use" means educational institutions and libraries are permitted to use copyrighted works for criticism, news reporting, teaching and research purposes.

To determine whether fair use applies, you must consider all of these factors together:

intended purpose - if it's for educational purposes, it's probably OK
quantity - you can't copy a major portion of the work, but a small portion is OK
effect on the value - it's not fair use if it would lessen the market value of the copyrighted work

You are at the end of Module 8!
You are at the end of the Passport tutorial!

To go to the official web site of the U.S. Copyright Office, click here

If you want to know more about plagiarism, click here (Plagiarism in Colleges in USA Copyright 2000 by Ronald B. Standler)

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