How to research properly/not plagiarise for essays Watch

Abramovic
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Hi!

I'm in my first year of university and I have some queries that I have been wondering a while:

- When writing an essay, you clearly need to form your own arguments through reading and possibly back this up by including research/references. However, couldn't it be considered that you steal an academic's notion/idea by referring it to your argument? What if someone expects you to have taken the whole point from them instead? (I have no clue, but I am wondering this)

- Also, are you only allowed to include your own arguments in an essay, or can you take an academic's point of view and explain it by giving examples? Is that still cheating, even through referencing properly? Or are you obligated to form your own arguments entirely?

These may seem like really stupid questions, but my secondary school wasn't wonderful and we barely wrote essays
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alleycat393
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We build on previous people's ideas and work all the time. Plagiarism refers to using someone else's work and calling it your own. You can talk about other people's work and expand using examples but you do have to show evidence of critical thinking and analysis by using more than one source to build your own argument. There's a difference between describing someone else's work and building on it.
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PugDevil
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(Original post by Abramovic)
Hi!

I'm in my first year of university and I have some queries that I have been wondering a while:

- When writing an essay, you clearly need to form your own arguments through reading and possibly back this up by including research/references. However, couldn't it be considered that you steal an academic's notion/idea by referring it to your argument? What if someone expects you to have taken the whole point from them instead? (I have no clue, but I am wondering this)

- Also, are you only allowed to include your own arguments in an essay, or can you take an academic's point of view and explain it by giving examples? Is that still cheating, even through referencing properly? Or are you obligated to form your own arguments entirely?

These may seem like really stupid questions, but my secondary school wasn't wonderful and we barely wrote essays
I'm doing history at university and I did struggle with this in my first year as well! Try not to worry about it being perfect right now as it's something that you will get more practice with and there should be some handbooks online at your university discussing how you should do it properly?

For me though, what I do is read the book - any good historian would state their argument near the beginning. If you're unsure about their argument, try to look online to see if someone can summarise it better. You can't steal anyone's idea unless you state it as your own, like alleycat says above. The biggest no-no is don't try to portray it as your idea - stick to that and you'll be fine. Make sure you reference it correctly and then you can build off of it.
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PinkAcid
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you can totally use someone elses idea and even their study data if it is referenced. you word it like this for example (ignore the bold and italics):

To date, research on the effects of increasing temperature and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems has focused on single drivers in isolation, and there has been a particular emphasis on specific effects such as coral calcification (for overviews see Fabry et al. 2008, Przeslawski et al. 2008). Thus there is currently a disconnect between the literature examining the biodiversity – ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationship and the literature examining the effects of climate change on ocean ecosystems (Schmitz et al. 2003), as well as a general lack of studies examining interactive effects of climate change on ecosystem functioning. The latter is particularly important because the interactions between multiple stressors are difficult to predict as the resulting net effect may not be additive but, instead, may either be greater (synergistic effects) or less (antagonistic effects) than anticipated (Folt et al. 1999).As a step towards understanding the uncertainty associated with current forecasts of the ecological consequences of environmental change, here we test for interactive effects of macrofaunal species richness, temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration on levels of nutrient release from the sediment to the water column in a model marine benthic system. An important mechanism underpinning nutrient release is the process of bioturbation, the mixing of porewater solutes and sediment particles by the movement and activities of the benthic organisms (Richter 1952). Bioturbation affects sediment permeability, breaks down chemical gradients in pore waters and subducts organic matter, thus influencing rates of remineralization and inorganic nutrient efflux (Gray 1974, Rhoads 1974, Kristensen & Blackburn 1987).

you will need to use other sources and their ideas in your essays to form your own conclusions, sometimes you will compare two contrasting ideas and give your own reasons for which one you decide is more likely.
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