Authorship and Plagiarism
An author's creative/intellectual effort represents a
significant investment of time, energy, money, and thought. Sometimes
ideas take years to germinate. Ideas take time to research and develop
fully--regardless of whether they lead to scientific experimentation,
research in a library, or creative works like novels and music.
When you perform research for the purposes of writing
a paper or creating a presentation, you are intentionally looking at the
work that other people have done in order to learn from it and build on
it. You are doing what you should do. But when you use any of that work
and fail to cite the source, you are misrepresenting that work as your
Many authors derive their income from the publication and sale of their ideas--whether it be in a book or journal, CD, video, or on a computer screen. These ideas are called intellectual property. Publishers and authors are naturally sensitive to how other people use their ideas. Using them without permission is like using a car that belongs to someone else without their knowledge or permission. U.S. and international law protects the rights of authors and publishers.
The next section will discuss copyright and "fair use," the U.S. law that allows limited reproduction of copyrighted works for educational and research purposes.