The wide variety of research materials now available on the internet may make plagiarism extremely easy, but the consequences of plagiarism in the research-based writing submitted for educational credit, scholarly publication or other professional purposes can be catastrophic.
Students guilty of plagiarism can earn failing grades or complete expulsion from a course, degree programme or university, while researchers accused of misconduct can face article retractions and lose employment, research funding, intellectual reputation and professional status.
Having someone else ghostwrite any part of a research paper for you to submit is also unethical.
• Read the sources you intend to use in a research paper carefully and repeatedly to ensure that you understand the meaning.
This involves far more than simply replacing words with synonyms or altering small chunks of a longer passage.
You need to digest the material you read and then interpret and convey it for your readers in your own words, altering the grammar and structure of the original and presenting the facts and ideas from a perspective relevant to your own research topic and argument.
Remember that primary sources and original studies tend to be particularly useful. Although this practice can be efficient when quoting a passage verbatim, it also enables plagiarism, whereas taking notes in your own words aids comprehension and retention of the material read.
• Never take the research paper or data of another author either in whole or in part and attempt to submit it for publication or grading as your own original work.
Paraphrases and summaries should differ markedly in structure and wording from the sources, but accurately represent the meaning and main ideas.
Direct quotations should be clearly marked and reproduce sources with precision.