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Research and Communication: 1. Plagiarism & Source Documentation

This guide is primarily for use by 8th grade research students but contains helpful information for all students.

Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a tricky concept. Questions regarding what it is, who can be affected, and how to avoid it may seem obvious, but usually go deeper than many may first believe. For a better understanding of plagiarism through the eyes of the MBA Honor Council, check out this libguide!


Avoiding plagiarism becomes easier when you are familiar with the important terms surrounding the topic. Use this helpful vocabulary guide to help develop your knowledge of the subject.

Source Identification Vocabulary -- 

Source: in research, this is a place that you find information.

Copyright law: law governing individual works that protects intellectual property from use by unauthorized individuals.

Documenting: recording information that allows another person to locate the source that you have used for your paper; also called citing.

Direct quotation: using someone else's words or expressing some else’s ideas exactly as they are written, spoken, or conveyed by the original source.

Paraphrase: using someone else's ideas and putting them in your own words.

Common knowledge: facts or ideas that are known by many and general in nature.

Public domain: as of 2019, most works in the United States are protected for the author’s lifetime plus 70 years. After that, the work enters the public domain. After that, anyone may use it. It also includes the following: Work published before 1923; Work published 1923-1963 whose copyright was not renewed during its 28th year; Works published by the federal government; Unpublished work of an author after the author dies plus seventy years.

Fair use: a copyright law that allows a portion of copyrighted material to be used if it can advance knowledge or serve altruistic social objectives; usually granted on a case-by-case basis.

Bibliographic citation: a detailed reference to a source, commonly used to document and attribute information found.