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History Seminar Research Paper Guide: Step 5: Be Ethical


The legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of information goes beyond properly citing sources and avoiding plagiarism.  Researchers should be knowledgeable about issues related to privacy and security, censorship and freedom of speech, as well as have an understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use.

Plagiarism checkers

There are programs that help educators check students’ work for proper citation or possible plagiarism by comparing it against continually updated content bases: billions of pages of web content, plus hundreds of millions of pages of proprietary content from subscription-based publications, and over 80 million student papers previously submitted to these programs.

Be aware that your teacher may choose to use these services.


Use information legally and ethically


You must cite...

All words quoted directly from another source

  • Put other people's words in quotation marks, and include a footnote for the source.

All facts, figures, and statistics that are not common knowledge.

  • When in doubt, cite your source in a footnote

All ideas paraphrased from a source. ‚Äč

  • Put other people's ideas into your own words and cite using a footnote

TIP: Paraphrasing does not mean changing one or two words in a sentence. Paraphrasing is putting an idea into your own words.