General Citation Rules: How to Avoid Plagiarism | Hacker Noon

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The topic of the correct design of the borrowed elements has recently become very much discussed. More serious attention to plagiarism and several scandals related to the dissertations of famous people have led to stricter requirements for citations in scientific works.

Scientific work without citation is impossible. The thin line between plagiarism and citation is to follow the rules described in GOSTs and methodological guidelines. Unfortunately, some manuals do not provide accurate answers to citation questions, leaving gaps. The Young Scientist Publishing House continues to talk about the proper design of your work and in this material will remind you of the basic rules of scientific citation.

General rules

What’s a citation? It’s called quoting:

  • borrowing a fragment of the author’s text
  • borrowing formulas, positions, illustrations, tables, and other elements
  • unspoken, translated or paraphrased reproduction of a text fragment
  • analysis of the content of other publications in the text of the work

The most important rule of citation is to accompany the quotation with a reference to a certain source from the list of literature used. Absence of citation reference or absence of citation if there is citation is a gross design error. For example, at Young Scientist Publishing, it may be an excuse to return your paper for revision.

How do I link to the work of other authors?

You should follow these rules:

  1. Be sure to place quotes when rewriting the source text verbatim. Otherwise, such a quote will become plagiarism.
  2. The text of the quote must be complete. Arbitrary abbreviation of the text is unacceptable.
  3. When referring to the author, specify his surname and initials. The initials are placed before the surname, for example, “M.T. Kalashnikov” or “S. Hawking”. It is not necessary to write the names of the authors in full, even if they are sufficiently known – enough initials.
  4. It is not necessary to start the paragraph with a quote, initials or surname of the author.
  5. All references in the work are made in the same style.

In scientific works, this type of citation is common, as a paraphrase. It is called paraphrase quotes in their own words. In this case, the reference to the author is also obligatory, as well as the preservation of sense at retelling. A paraphrase is appropriate in the following cases:

  • providing general information when referring to several sources
  • a summary of the extensive theoretical concept
  • voluminous quotations, not applicable for direct reference

A change in the quotation is only permissible in special cases. As a rule, it is undesirable, but there are cases when GOST R 7.0.5_2008 “Bibliographic Reference” and methodical manuals allow making author’s changes in the quotation at deployment of abbreviated words in full. In this case, it is necessary to take the added part of a word in square brackets.

When changing the case of words in the quote, a change is only allowed if the quote is subject to the syntactic order of the phrase in which it is included.

When identifying misprints and errors in the text of the document, the error is not corrected, but a correctly spelled word in square brackets or a question mark in brackets is placed.

Mistakes often made when quoting

Despite the brevity and unambiguousness of citation rules, from time to time authors of scientific works make mistakes. Let us understand how the most common mistakes occur.

1. Lack of reference in the list of used literature. Such an error can be a consequence of simple inattention, but at the same time, it is considered a serious defect.

2. References to popular publications or authors who do not have a proper scientific qualification. The qualification of authors should be checked, based on the style of work and information about the author and the publication itself. In case there are doubts about the author’s qualifications, it is better to avoid citing him.

3. Lack of reference when placing graphic materials. When borrowing graphic materials (for example, schemes, diagrams, figures), as well as tables, you should specify the reference to the source of information. Such information without reference to the source will be copyright infringement.

4. Verbatim rewriting of text and “queues” of quotations. In order to keep the narrative alive, you should use quotations within reasonable limits, as well as vary the form of a quotation. For example, to use a paraphrase.

5. Violation of secondary citation rules. Authors often quote information as if they had found it in the original source or as if it belonged to the author of the secondary source.

6. Errors in citing foreign authors. Incorrect translation of the author’s surname, absence of original spelling of the name and surname, paraphrase errors in the independent use of the source. It is also important to remember that in the literature list quotation source names should be given in the original language.

7. Use of quotations with unverified authorship as well as quotations containing banal or erroneous statements.

8. Finally, the most inexcusable and unethical mistake is the absence of quotation marks and reference to the source. In this case, the quote is considered plagiarism.

In this article, we have considered the main features of scientific citation. Usually, it is enough to know these simple rules in order to clearly respect the copyright and be insured against unintentional plagiarism.

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