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Ethical Documentation - Academic Integrity in Research & Writing

Why is Proper Documentation so Important?

Locating scholarly resources and then citing these references accurately should be the foundation of your own academic and professional writing.

Why is this an ethical issue? Correct documentation

  1. Provides attribution or credit to the original author or creator.
  2. Allows someone to find the documents you cited on their own.
  3. Enables the reader to follow the continuum of research. What important contributions were made before your work and where does your body of research contribute to or add to current knowledge?
  4. Enables others to verify the accuracy and completeness your work. A thorough reference list demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about your field of inquiry.
  5. Communicates transparency, trust and integrity and helps you to avoid plagiarism.

 

Incorrect Documentation

Ethical research and writing means giving proper attribution and credit to the work of others. In the academic community the ideas, words, and formal or informal publications of others is considered intellectual property. Failing to provide the correct citation may not always be plagiarism. However, if another scholar cannot easily find the research you claim to have consulted, one may reasonably conclude that you either “raided” the reference list of someone else, or that you made up the reference(s) on your own. In either case, you did not actually do the work of reading and analyzing the source material yourself. Citing sources without reading them is considered fraudulent because you are lying about the work you have done.  Finally, you should not blindly trust the conclusions of others.  Always track down and read the original research yourself to make sure that the data is accurate.

Finally, sometimes the expression of someone’s creative work is copyrighted. You may see official copyright or creative commons licensing information on a website or publication indicating that the work is protected. Regardless of whether or not you see an official notice, you should always consider any written, visual, multimedia, or auditory work as protected under copyright law whether or not you see an official trademark or warning.  

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