Plagiarism is defined in the Oxford Advance Dictionary, “to take somebody else’s ideas or words and use them as if they were one’s own.” When somebody writes something it becomes an intellectual property of a person who writes it, especially when it is published; however, in some cases, even unpublished material (for example thesis) is also intellectual property of the writer and cannot be used without referencing to the original author. Plagiarism is an academic and intellectual stealing, which not only is ethically an erroneous action of high intensity but also a crime.

It is not difficult to avoid plagiarism for writers provided they cite others’ work in a proper manner. The purpose of citation is threefold: (1) citing other person is a means to credit and acknowledge the others’ efforts; (2) it provides opportunity for new researchers to consult the original work; (3) it restricts to misinterpret or misquote someone whose work has used. It is important to note that a writer must cite his own earlier work if it is being used in a new project.

Proper citation provides a means of using others work without being accused or challenged for plagiarism. Although, it is not the purpose of this article to train students how to cite others work, a few common ways are explained below.

If one is copying the exact text from the work of others, it must be quoted in quotation marks and followed by last name of the author with the year of publication as this: “Unconscious wish emerges into consciousness (Corsini and Wedding, 1989).”

If a gist of information is narrated or information is rephrased then citation can be arranged in two different ways: (1) mention last name of the author and year in parentheses as this, Yousaf (1993) indicates that organization could have one of the three cultures….; or (2) mention name of the author(s) at the end of the sentences as this, he explains in his work how to avoid plagiarism (O’Shea, 1991).

Since the internet is full of knowledge and it is acceptable to use website information. It is important to mention the full URL from where one has downloaded information, date of download and name of author (if available). If one uses internet information but do not credit, it is also plagiarism.

Footnotes and endnotes are other ways of citation but less popular. It is not sufficient citing authors in the body of the academic work but a reference list must be prepared that contains complete details of the publication including year of publication, name of the author(s) and title of the article or book. The readers who are interested to know in detail how the others’ work should be cited to avoid plagiarism, they could consult any good manual for academic writing or consult guidelines of the referee journals.

However, the citation is not required for common knowledge or general statements. For example, Muslims fought war of independence in 1857 is a common knowledge of subcontinent history and does not require citation but if somebody has researched and discussed implications of the war then the author must be referred. Similarly, one does not need citation even if title of ones work is same as the other(s) because titles are not copyright protected.

Nadeem Yousaf

21 July 2011

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