Plagiarism and copyright are a complex concepts. Watch this video:
Note: This video may be a little difficult to follow–but it is well worth your patience. In cooperation with the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.
Merging Data with Thoughts
Simply put: when you write a paper of ideas and opinions, that is all it is: an opinion essay. When you write a paper that contains reporting of what you found in your research, it is a report (nothing more). When you formulate ideas and opinions about the data (research) you collected, then you are beginning to merge data with arguments. This includes taking issue with other arguments. For example, if an author argues that beef comes from pigs, I am going to analyze that argument with my critical thinking skills before responding with either a supportive or attacking argument of my own.
A good writer might follow this kind of structure in composing her arguments with data:
1) quote or paraphrase the source of data (facts or argument about/with facts),
2) explain the meaning of the data in your own words–you might have to compare/contrast your understanding with others’ understanding,
3) explain (reason) how that data supports your argument (and/or make your argument as it ties directly to that data),
4) possibly provide an example to further illustrate your point, and/or
5) possibly cite others who agree with you.
A good writer should not:
1) misquote or misrepresent data or its source(s),
2) present an argument without either reasoning or data,
3) plagiarize arguments with which she/he might agree, nor
4) present the data or someone else’s argument without making completely clear connections to his/her paper’s arguments.
A Review of Rules on Copyright & Plagiarism:
1) If it is not your statement, you must put it into quotes and give credit to your source.
2) If it is not your idea, you must give credit to your source.
3) Even if you put someone else’s statement or idea into your own words, you must be careful to give credit to your source.
4) If it is common knowledge, you do not need to provide a source.