Fair Use, Copyright, Citation and Original Work

–  See also SDED Final Report Guidelines at http://wp.me/p1zD54-mm

writing on computer - fair use

Before we get into the details, let me plead with you to be very careful as you prepare your working materials and start to  write, to be extremely careful to acknowledge your sources in the proper way. You are the author so the words must be yours. We live in an era of such enormous availability of materials on just about any subject, and all that often only one easy click away. But we also have minds. So please show me in your paper how you use your mind and acknowledge all those sources in the appropriate way

Failure to attribute your sources properly in academic work or journalism is called plagiarism, that is: appropriating ideas or words of others and presenting them as your own without attributing those words or ideas to their true source.   Today it’s a serious generational problem — always existed but today in the era of the internet and infinite information on an infinity of topics, the temptations and tools are there for all of us (this writer included).  Please do not fall into this trap of facility.

The Wikipedia article on plagiarism at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism does a pretty good job on the topic. It opens with this:

Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud, and offenders are subject to academic censure, up to and including expulsion. In journalism, plagiarism is considered a breach of journalistic ethics, and reporters caught plagiarizing typically face disciplinary measures ranging from suspension to termination of employment. Some individuals caught plagiarizing in academic or journalistic contexts claim that they plagiarized unintentionally, by failing to include quotations or give the appropriate citation. While plagiarism in scholarship and journalism has a centuries-old history, the development of the Internet, where articles appear as electronic text, has made the physical act of copying the work of others much easier.

It is important for you as an MBA student preparing an academic report to be able to reference your materials  properly. There are no absolute rules for setting out references, but certain information must be given.

You must always give a reference in the text during, or directly after, each sentence or short section in which you draw upon or summarize someone’s work or ideas. When referring to a particular source, you give:

  • Author (s) name
  • Title, date and place of publication (in brackets)
  • Page number if quoting directly or referring to a point clearly located on a particular page

To conclude: Have confidence in your ability to express yourself in your own words. Do not ever, EVER  use the words or thoughts of someone else without properly and clearly acknowledging your source.

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PS. Yes, I understand that with your work and university obligations time is short for our seminar, thus you are faced with a lot of competition for your time. So what about this as a plan if nothing better comes to mind? You prepare a first-rate cut-and-paste job which introduces the main lines of your topic, drawing on at least four separate sources, with enough of your own words as required here and there to render the whole thing readable.

And then you catch your breath and in closing give the reader three or four original pages of your original comments, observations and eventual conclusions and recommendations you might wish to share with your reader.  Lay it out properly with full attention to our detailed guidelines for presentation, and now that would be a paper that would command my full attention and respect.

# # #

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a public entrepreneur specializing in the field of sustainability and social justice. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions -- and in the process, find practical solutions to urgent climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. More at: http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7

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