Reading, Writing, etc.

Research & Documentation

Learn to be a responsible researcher

You do research to learn more about a topic, to gather ideas from multiple sources, to confrim an idea, to find statistics, facts and other information to support your ideas. 

The key word there is "your ideas".  Don't start selecting things to use from a source while you still have no ideas of your own on the topic!

So you found the "perfect" website-- the one that says everything so clearly in  just the right words-- now what?  Can you just copy and paste that into your paper, or a bit more responsibly, put those ideas into your own words and then put them in your paper?  Well, yes, you can use those ideas -- BUT not without properly documenting (citing) the source.  After all, even if you put the idea into your own words-- it wasn't originally your idea!

 It's not difficult to give credit for information and document sources.  You simply tell where you got information.  A fellow English teacher, Eric T. MacKnight, explains it very clearly on his website:

"How do we “give credit”? It can be as easy as adding a phrase: “As my teacher Mr. Jones pointed out, . . . .” You can put the source in brackets (R.K. Jones, personal conversation), even if it’s a written source (R.K. Jones, Avoiding Plagiarism, p. 22). You can use direct quotation “if you use the exact words of the original” (R.K. Jones, Avoiding Plagiarism, p. 23). In more formal writing you can use footnotes and a bibliography." (MacKnight)

MacKnight, Eric T. "Plagiarism". Eric T. (web) 2011. 6 March 2011.

I used that teacher's examples and words from the website, and properly quoted and cited my source above.  It wasn't difficult to do!

Sites to help you learn how to avoid plagiarism:

  • College board site tells you what you need to document and how, and has examples:

  • This mutli-page resource has a page for every step of the research process:

  • has specific information on exactly what plagiarism is or isn't and how to avoid it:

  • This is a step by step tutorial on plagiarism that you can work through to learn how to deal with research without plagiarizing:  

Sites to help you with the form of documenting sources: