BCPS K-12 Research Guides Grades 9-12 HOME Research GLOSSARY Encounter the Research Task
Skill 2: Practice ethics and cite sources.

Before you begin searching for information and media that is useful for your research task, you need to have an understanding of ethical use.
If you use someone else's intellectual property is a way that is unethical, your research will be invalidated, and you could face serious academic consequences. Practicing Ethics requires that you build knowledge and skills regarding Plagiarism, Copyright, and Citing Sources.

Skill-builders & Tools
Ethics must be considered in all phases of a research project, from brainstorming ideas, to fund-raising grants, to designing studies, to conducting interviews, and right through to final publication of final results. Socialresearchmethods.net explains several areas which are often susceptible to ethical dilemmas in research:
  • voluntary participation
  • informed consent
  • risk of harm
  • confidentiality
  • anonymity
  • right to service

For a review of some ethical dilemmas and some common ethical principals, see this brief FOX News report on ethical dilemmas. 

The National Institute of Environmental Heath Science and the National Institutes of Health have a thorough consideration of all aspects of research ethics for all types of research designs in the article, “What is Ethics in Research & Why is It Important?” by David B. Resnik, J.D., Ph.D. 
  • Ethics - moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior.
Student Resources
  • Socialresearchmethods.net explains several areas which are often susceptible to ethical dilemmas in research




Teaching Resources


DO NOW: Read the article via the link below, and respond to the two questions in a paragraph each.
  1. As you read the article, generate a list of all of the various ways in which ethics impacts the research process.
  2. Which one of all of the concerns related to research ethics is the most important to remember? 
Read "What is Ethics in Research & Why is It Important?

Plagiarism - the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person

As you begin to find resources and gather information, you will need to ensure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism and know how to avoid it. The activities and resources below will help you to apply strategies for distinguishing between your own original ideas and information taken from source materials.

Good writers use three strategies—quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing— to blend source materials in with their own ideas, making sure that their sources are acknowledged and that their own voice is heard. See the student resources section for resources to assist you with paraphrasing text.

Detecting Plagiarism:
Teachers often use free or fee-based digital tools designed to detect plagiarism in student writing. You can use these tools to detect unintentional plagiarism in your own writing before finalizing your research paper. Check any phrase or chunk of text which you may have neglected to properly quote or paraphrase. Some tools will allow you to check your entire draft.

  • You can use a search engine like Google, to check phrases or strings of text in your paper that may have originated from an online source; use quotation marks to enclose the phrase or text string in the search box.
  • The Plagiarism Checker - Free tool allows you to check for plagiarized text by copying and pasting excerpts into the window, or uploading an entire Microsoft Word document. This educational software was designed as a project for the University of Maryland at College Park Department of Education.
  • PlagiarismChecker.com - Free tool allows you to search Google for several phrases from a paper at the same time, without adding quotation marks or special operators; created by a teacher.
  • Grammarly - Automated proofreader checks your text for plagiarism and grammar errors. Fee-based subscription service, but offers a 7-day free trial.
  • WriteCheck - Tool for students to check their own writing for improperly used content, inadvertent plagiarism, or quotation errors. Fee-based subscription only, no free trial offered.
  • Other free plagiarism checkers which do not store submitted papers: Plagium | SeeSources.com
  • Plagiarism - the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person
  • Summarizing - Summarizing teaches students how to discern the most important ideas in a text, how to ignore irrelevant information, and how to integrate the central ideas in a meaningful way. Teaching students to summarize improves their memory for what is read. Summarization strategies can be used in almost every content area.
  • Paraphrasing- a rewording of something written or spoken by someone else.
Student Resources

Additional resources to assist you with paraphrasing text:

Detecting Plagiarism:

Teaching Resources
DO NOW: After reviewing the resources above, you should have a good deal of knowledge about plagiarism. Using what you have learned, complete the Avoiding Plagiarism Guide for future reference as write your research paper.

Most text and images that you find online will be copyrighted. A copyright provides the exclusive right to make copies, licence, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.

See the statement below as well as this link from the United States Government Copyright Office regarding copyrights:

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale  or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audio­visual works
  • display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audio visual work
  • perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission

The Online Advancement of Student Information Skills from the San Francisco State University has developed a website that explains ethical issues, plagiarism, copyright infringement, and other related issues.

  • Copyright - the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
Student Resources


Teaching Resources
DO NOW: After reviewing the materials above, go to the link below and complete the four lessons and quizzes on copyrighting.

Link: Copyright Tutorial

Citing Sources
To avoid plagarism, you must cite all sources that are copyrighted. Academic organizations and some disciplines have developed their own styles of how to cite sources and format research papers. These styles are outlined in style guides published in print and online. You may have heard of or used some of these styles before. Before you begin the writing process, you need to determine which style guide to follow for your research topic/subject area, and how to use that style guide to document your sources and organize your research paper. Popular styles include MLA, APA, and Chicago. See the student resources section for links to style guides and sample papers. Below is the basic citation format for books and internet based sources. Be aware that the citation method varies with the type of book, the number of authors, and many other factors. You will need to consult your style guide before citing any work in your research.

See this video from brainpop about citing sources:


Book Citation:
Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for
subtitle. Location: Publisher.

Internet Citation:
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of article. Title of
Online Periodical, volume number (issue number if available). Retrieved
From http://www.someaddress.com/full/url/.

See the student resources section for tools which will automatically generate citations when you input the required information into the tool. It is important to manually check the citation that is generated to make sure that the format is correct per the style that you are using. When experimenting with the tools below, consider that BCPS has recently paid for a subscription to the Easybib program, linked below. See your school’s library media specialist for information on how to access the subscription features of the software.

  • Style Guide - A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents.
  • Citation -- a quotation from or reference to a book, paper, or author, especially in a scholarly work.
  • Bibliography - a list of the books referred to in a scholarly work, usually printed as an appendix.
  • Works Cited - a list of sources that you have incorporated within your paper by using the ideas, information, and quotes of others. It is not a list of all the works that you found that addressed your topic.
  • References - provide (a book or article) with citations of authorities.
Student Resources
Style Guides and Sample Papers:

Online Citation Tools:

Teaching Resources
DO NOW: Use the student resources to complete this Style and Citation Guide for future reference during the writing process.

Application: Use your Style and Citation Guide to organize your paper and document your sources as you write your draft, including properly-formatted in-text citations and list of Works Cited, Bibliography, Notes, or References. Use the online citation tool you selected to format citations for your list according to your selected style guide.

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