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Ethical Use of Information

Plagiarism FAQ's

Here you will find some common questions regarding plagiarism and citations:

Q - Citation seems very difficult, how can I make the process easier?

A - Try using a citation manager! These format citations for you and keep them organized. See our guide on Citation Managers or checkout our short courses to get started.

Q - When do I NOT have to cite? I thought you always had to cite...

A - Yes, normally you do have to cite, but things that are general information do not always need to be cited (nor mathematical equations). See our Citation Guide for details on all the situations where you do not have to cite. For example, if you are making a point about the Earth revolving around the Sun, you do not need to cite the first person to come up with this idea (possibly as early as 200's BC). Nor do you need to cite E = mc^2 as coming from Einstein and cite his original paper that proposed this equation.

Q - Can I use information I memorized from my textbook to answer a question on an exam? What about citing it?

A - Yes, you are expected to use the information you learned in class to answer questions on exams. The sources that you draw your information from may include your textbook, optional readings, lecture notes, etc. that your professor has given to you and are known resources, so citation is generally not necessary (especially during an exam that does not allow external resources). It is good though to use your own words to show your mastery of the topic instead of just directly spouting out what you memorized. But, if this is a written assignment (i.e. a paper or lab report) where you can consult these resources, you should cite your textbook and any other sources you pull information for the assignment.