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Ethical Use of Sources and Writing

Chester Fritz Library tips on using sources

Why students plagiarize and how to help

This guide's name is based on many conversations with the Writing Center and UND Composition Program coordinators as well as our experience as academic librarians. Improving researched writing requires a wholistic, positive and collaborative approach, which this guide can be used to support. The Citation Project studies of students' use of materials in writing can inform discussions about Plagiarism. One study, Writing from Sources, Writing From Sentences shows how well student understanding of the material equates to their effectiveness of summarizing it. Therefore, this guide includes a tutorial link on reading scholarly articles that can be embedded into a course.

Faculty collaboration with campus co-curricular units for instruction is also emphasized in the guide. Library instruction on plagiarism is informed by the Association of College and Research Libraries use of "Scholarship As Conversation" as a frame to teaching the information literacy skill of ethical use of sources. Consider this metaphor used in our lessons: Imagine you enter a room where people are excitedly discussing and debating an issue. You may have an instinct to jump right in and share your opinion based on your personal experience. Or, you may decide to stand back to listen to what others are saying and how they're saying it. As people are talking, you start to think about your own ideas and how they relate to what's being said. When you join the conversation you can credibly say, I believe something to be so, based on this evidence and in agreement (or disagreement) with what this other person has said. You would be using your own words and ideas and not just repeating what others in the room are saying. The larger the crowd in the room, the more important it is to keep straight who said what. Writing and citing work exactly the same way, except more permanent and open to a larger audience. That's why it's a good idea to build these skills – you will be in many conversations in different settings and you want to be seen as credible, informed and ethical.

Review additional materials below.

Campus Resources

SafeAssign (in Blackboard) is a plagiarism detector that can provide opportunities for learning when supported with instruction. Students need assistance working through originality reports with an eye towards improving their writing versus avoiding punishment. For example, SafeAssign can support students to be intentional when direct quoting or making sure paraphrasing is substantive and reflective of their own writing. Contact TTADA for more assistance.

Learning Services at UND provides many different services, such as  academic coaching, where coaches can help with figuring out why procrastination happens, planning and managing time, as well as goal setting and reducing stress and the feeling of being behind in work. Learning how to better manage time and avoiding procrastination can be useful for students that may be struggling with writing. Contact Learning Services for more information.

Research Skills Instruction at Chester Fritz Library can promote student learning in topics such as citation managers, locating and reading academic articles and keeping organized during the research process. SMHS and Law have their own instructional programs. Visit the Research Skills library website to learn more.

Writing Center

The UND Writing center is a great resource. During any time of the writing process, students can make appointments with the writing center and share any concerns that they have. Consultants at the writing center will work with students to understand their goals of their writing piece, the intended audience, and work with the student to create a plan for revisions. The Writing Center is not a primary resource for detecting plagiarism, rather their consultants will work with the student and direct them to resources and help them learn how to use style guides, which is an important tool for correctly formatting citations. If students are looking for help immediately, UND provides access to an online 24/7 tutoring service called Smarthinking, and this provides a Writing and Grammar check which includes proper documentation of sources. 

Tutorials and Lesson Resources

You may work with your Subject Librarian to develop a customized tutorial.