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What is Plagiarism? » Why Document your sources?

Why Document Your Sources?

It is very important to document your sources. Here are a few reasons why1:

  1. Strengthens your work/writing
    Citing a source through paraphrasing or quoting demonstrates that you have researched and incorporated your findings into your own argument. You also demonstrate that you are aware of other academic opinions on the topic.

  2. Documenting Sources Shows Respect for Intellectual Property
    Citing shows respect for the creators of ideas and arguments honouring thinkers and their intellectual property.

  3. Citing is a service to the Reader
    Citing enables the reader to locate the sources of information and pursue further reading or investigation on the topic.

  4. Serious Consequences if you do not Document your Sources
    Any violation of academic honesty can result in serious consequences, ranging from a written disciplinary warning to expulsion from the university, depending on the extent and nature of the offence.

Within the academic community plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are seen as very serious offences, as illustrated by the following statement:

It would be impossible to think of any greater insult to the integrity of an academic institution or to an academic community than that of dishonesty whether it is called intellectual dishonesty or fraud. One can therefore sympathize with the desire to uncover it and treat it with the condemnation it deserves when it is thought to exist.

Krever, J. in Hajee v. York University, 11 OAC 72, 1985

1 Harris, R. A. (2002). The plagiarism handbook: Strategies for preventing, detecting, and dealing with plagiarism. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing, p. 35.

Ultimately, if you weigh the risks and costs involved in submitting a plagiarized paper, you might consider it a far better strategy to work on improving your research and writing skills to produce honest work. Why not take advantage of the many resources available on campus and on the Internet to help you improve your academic skills?

arrow image   Ready to proceed?  Go to the next section, Demonstrating Academic Integrity.