Chapter Nine: How do we use sources responsibly

Write with Integrity
Scholars maintain their integrity by making a good faith effort not to “cheat” the authors whose words and ideas they borrow. That is why we work so diligently – using the techniques for careful reading and analysis that we have discussed in this book – to fully understand our sources’ content, intended purpose, and persuasive strategies before we critique them, disagree with the,, or use them to support our own arguments.

We must be able to trust each other’s work and trust that our colleagues will use our work responsibly. That is where the idea of plagiarism comes from. Plagiarism is a kind of stealing, but more importantly, plagiarism violates the trust of the scholarly community. How can we build upon each other’s discoveries if we cannot trust the integrity of the work done to produce and communicate those discoveries?

The credibility and integrity of our scholarly work is therefore networked and independent, which is why we cite our sources. We did not design citation sites just to torture scholarly apprentices. Our specialized referencing systems enable us to exhibit scholarly genealogies for our discoveries. Scholars who review our work can judge its credibility, in part, by scrutinizing the lineage of our work.

Copying from others denies you the opportunity to learn.

Most schools have formal honor codes that define various kinds of cheating. The term “plagiarism” typically means copying someone else’s words or ideas without attribution. Buying a paper off the Web or copying someone else’s writing is deemed the most serious of offenses and often carries the strictest penalties, such as failing the assignment or the course, or even expulsion from school.

You will get into trouble for copying a passage from a source without quoting it. Remember to mark all quotations and provide proper citations as we describe below.

Students are often less familiar with other kinds of honor code violations, which may include the following: unauthorized collaboration and recycled writing.

Unauthorized Collaboration
Scholars rarely write alone. They usually discuss their ideas with other and ask colleagues to critique their writing. You should do the same whenever possible, with one caveat: Always ask your instructor in advance what kinds of collaboration she allows.

Most professors will appreciate that you are using every available means to improve your writing. However, there may be occasions when you will be expected to complete your work alone to demonstrate your own individual learning. Seeking help from writing centre tutors is usually acceptable but you should ask your professor first.

Recycled Writing
Schools typically do not allow student to recycle papers. For example, you probably cannot dust off a paper you wrote in high school and use in a college class. The rule may seem a little unfair but handing in the same paper twice violates the primary purpose of academic integrity policies: You cannot learn something new if you don’t do the work.

If you want to reuse some words or ideas from a previous paper, ask your professor for guidance. She can probably help you think of ways to expand on your previous work. Scholars do this all the time as part of an evolving “research agenda,” when they develop ideas over a series of research projects and publications.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism
• Get to know your honor code so you will know how your school handles academic integrity. Ask questions when in doubt. Ignorance of the rules is typically not an excuse for breaking them.
• As you read, pay careful attention to how writers use their sources. Practice by imitating various styles. More skill with using sources will increase your confidence and lower the risk of plagiarism.
• Don’t be tempted to write your paper and then go back to fill in the citiation. Doing so will generate more work and increase to risk of inadvert plagiarism
• Maintain careful notes as you read and conduct research. When taking notes, mark quotations with question marks, and keep track of page numbers and which material comes from which source.
• Don’t procrastinate. Looming deadlines cause anxiety that can cloud judgement. Do not be tempted to take shortcuts, and don’t fool yourself into thinking that you write you best under pressure. If for some reason, you cannot complete your work on time, discuss your situation with your professor. Be honest, don’t make excuses and know that the sun will rise again tomorrow.

Quote and Integrate Sources
Most scholarly writing, including the kinds of assignments you are likely to encounter in college, uses published sources as verification to support arguments.

Every time you include a summary or paraphrase or quotation, you might think of that source as an expert witness in a trial.

It is important for writers to frame their quotations with:

  1. An introduction
  2. An explanation

Create a Conversation
When we build sources into arguments, we not only clarify who our sources are, but we also create linkages by telling readers

a. Why a quote is there
b. What is means, and
c. How it is related to, or supports, our argument

We wouldn’t be able to converse with our sources and with our readers. Instead of quoting a source and immediately moving on, we elaborate on sources in the following ways:
• Interpret the source. Unless a quotation’s message is blatantly obvious, we typically offer some kind of explanation. Readers usually need help interpreting a quotation because we have taken it out of its original context. Especially when there is familiar vocabulary or dense information, we translate the source’s ideas into more accessible language. We add explanations directly after each quotation such as:
“this passage suggests that….”
“In other words,…”

• Explain how the quotation relates to our argument although the relationship between a quotation and our ideas might seem clear, readers often need us to highlight the linkage. We link a quotation to our paragraph’s central point by telling readers exactly why and how the source is relevant.
• Tell readers what makes the quotation significant. Since we only quote a source when it is necessary, we should know why a quotation is important
• Consider ways to make a source our own. Link a source to our argument by providing our own unique example, analogy, or related experience to illustrate the idea.

Paraphrasing is a difficult skill for apprentice scholars to master. To paraphrase effectively, you must closely read and fully understand your source, and you must practice, using the techniques outlined in chapter 3.

• Original text
• Proper paraphrase
• Proper paraphrase with quotation

Citing Sources
We have waited until now to discuss the specifics of scholarly citation because too often students obsess about correct citation formatting.
That’s understandable for two reasons:
1. Because sometimes teachers obsess about citations, and you have to give them what they want in order to get what you want
2. Because, as frustrating or foreign as citation formatting seems, the rules for citing correctly somehow seem more straightforward than rules for citing correctly somehow seem more straightforward than rules for more complicated things like choosing a god topic or organizing your ideas. Unlike most things in writing, citations provide an opportunity for getting a right or wrong answer.

How Do We Know When We Need to Cite Something
• always cite quotations and paraphrases
• Cite summaries too
• Cite stats, dates, and other details

Citation Fundamentals

• Bibliographic Citations
A bibliographic citation includes a complete list of information about each source. Bibliographic citations appear at the end of scholarly article or paper as a list of “references” or “works cited” or as a “bibliography.” A bibliographic citation includes everything that a reader would need to know to find the exact source that you used.
Each citation style formats the information a little differently, but the basic information is always the same”
a. Author name(s)
b. Title(s)
c. Publication information (when, where, and who published the source)

In-Text Citations
An in-text citation appears in the text, as opposed to in a separate list at the end of the paper. Specifically, in-text citations appear right next to where you summarize, paraphrase, or quote from your source.

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