The legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of information go beyond properly citing sources and avoiding plagiarism. Researchers should be knowledgeable about issues related to privacy and security and censorship and freedom of speech, as well as have an understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use.
"Plagiarism means taking the words and thoughts of others (their ideas, concepts, images, sentences, and so forth) and using them as if they were your own, without crediting the author or citing the source" (from Plagiarism, What is It?, published by the UK Office of Academic Ombud Services). Plagiarism: What Is It? explains plagiarism, provides examples of both good and bad paraphrasing, and tips on how to avoid plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a serious offense with consequences ranging from receiving a zero on an assignment all the way to expulsion from the university.
To avoid plagiarizing someone else's words or ideas, make sure you:
♦ Paraphrase the original text in your own words. Be sure you are not just rearranging phrases or replacing a couple of words.
♦ Use quotation marks around text that has been taken directly from the original source.
♦ Cite every source of information you use to write your paper unless it is common knowledge or the results of your own research. This includes facts, figures, and statistics as well as opinions and arguments.