8. Online Sources

Online sources include Internet web pages, electronic books, and full-text journal articles (usually available from library databases). Any material you use in a paper from an online source should be acknowledged just as it would be if it came from a traditional print publication. Cutting and pasting information from online sources into your paper can make it particularly vulnerable to plagiarism.

Strategies to protect against accidentally plagiarizing from an online source:

  • When taking notes by cutting and pasting, carefully document the source of each piece of information.
  • When copying direct quotes into a document containing your own original text, use some sort of highlighting or other method to identify the copied material.
  • Avoid cutting and pasting text from your sources directly into your final paper. Good writing practice recommends reading the source material then ‘closing the book’ and writing notes in your own words to ensure you have understood the material.  Why is cut & paste a problem?
    Cut & paste can short circuit good writing practices. If you copy text and ‘sew’ it together with little bits of original connecting prose you run the danger of creating a ‘Frankenstein’ paper. These hybrid papers can avoid accusations of plagiarism by using proper attribution. However, they usually receive low grades anyway since it is difficult to create a cohesive, well-thought-out paper from bits and pieces of other people’s words. 

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Last updated 8/23/2012 by Sue Thompson
contact: sthompsn@csusm.edu