Improperly cited sources

code | scenario | smart strategies | consequences

Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters

1. It shall be an offence for a student knowingly:

(d) to represent as one’s own an idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;

Wherever in the Code an offence is described as depending on “knowing”, the offence shall likewise be deemed to have been committed if the person ought reasonably to have known.

Scenario – Improperly cited sources

You are a second-year PhD student writing your departmental comprehensive exam. You have been working for months with your reading list, taking notes from articles and also copying and pasting passages directly into your working drafts. After receiving the exam questions, you begin to feel pressured for time, as you only have a few days to complete your answers. As you panic to finish your exam answers, you begin to lose track of which sentences are your own in your working draft, and which sentences are taken directly from sources. You are unable to trace back all the passages from your working drafts, and submit your exam without being certain you have properly cited all instances of direct quotes in your answers. While you are unsure of your work, you feel that you can clarify any inconsistencies in person at your oral exam.

The Issue

You have knowingly not included the proper citations for the passages you have included in your written exam, and you have therefore committed plagiarism. While you hope to explain and account for any of these instances at your oral exam, this does not excuse the submission of your work with unattributed quotations. The note-taking method that you have used– taking passages from articles and dropping them into your working documents without accompanying source information– is problematic and bound to lead to citations being missed.

Smart Strategies

  • Taking notes; Citations, quoting and paraphrasing; Information literacy and academic integrity
  • When taking direct quotes from sources and placing them into notes and working documents, it is critical to always insert the correct reference right away.
  • Don’t rely on being able to work back from their notes to the sources, as over time you can forget which source should be referenced, and you may run out of time to do a thorough check.
  • Instead of taking direct quotes from sources, consider paraphrasing the material you read and putting these paraphrased sections into your notes, with accompanying references as appropriate.
  • In final documents, proper referencing methods must always be used, and you should not expect to be given the chance to explain referencing errors.
  • Try to learn what time management techniques work for you, especially when preparing to submit a substantial assignment in a limited time frame. When dates and deadlines are known well ahead of time, preparing and reading in advance is important, but it is also important to implement schedules for completing work on time, with adequate time to confirm that references and sources are accurate.

Range of Consequences

For a discussion of consequences see Key Consequences.